This quotation makes me wonder if Frank Lloyd Wright was a Pantheist. Pantheists see God in everything–literally. In some ways, it’s an easy perspective to define, at least on the surface. Wikipedia has this to say about it:
“Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) and God are identical,or that the Universe (including Nature on Earth) is the only thing deserving the deepest kind of reverence. The word derives from the Ancient Greek: πᾶνpan) meaning “All” and θεός (theos) meaning “God” – literally “All is God.” As such Pantheism promotes the idea that God is better understood as a way of relating to nature and the Universe as a whole – all that was, is and shall be – rather than as a transcendent, mental, personal or creator entity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or creator god. Although there are divergences within Pantheism, the central ideas found in almost all versions are the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the “sacredness” of Nature. “
I think it’s also where Emerson, Thoreau and the other transcendentalist got lost along the way to God. On one hand, there is no doubt about it, the creation is marvelous, awe inspiring. Not even an atheist can deny that there is something within each person that responds to nature in a spiritual fashion, even if only “instinctively.” We can agree all day long about the beauty of nature and our need to be good stewards of the environment. I love to hike, study nature, garden, and cultivate the spark of life with my hands.
But, there are problems with the larger realities of Pantheism to be sure. When we start to equate the creation with the Creator, and if you take this so far as to suggest that they are one and the same, then you need to address the next logical point–such a perspective also suggests the universe, though beautiful and intricate, is also rather indifferent at minimum and possibly downright cruel.
You don’t have to examine nature long to see that the relationship among inhabitants is generally interdependent, but in a hostile way. Cats chase mice, dogs chase cats, and the food web, chain or whatever you’d like to label it, is a sad reality. Though most Pantheists I’ve met are environmentalists and pacifists, their belief seems to run aground when followed to the logical conclusions. Even if we take man out of the equation completely, the creation seems to embody a combative spirit. Left to its own devices, the crabgrass on my lawn would overrun my flower beds and creatures would continue to feed off each other. In this sense, I think the message of Pantheism is that nature is a tough taskmaster—the weak succumb to the strong, the strongest prevails…
Is the study of Science part of Pantheism? For some, I would say yes, that their fascination with Science and the Creation dominates their lives and become the lens through which they see everything. Science is a rather cold bedfellow I think.
Pantheism and Christianity do have some common ground however–they both marvel at the glory of Creation. This is where they part paths however, as the Christian sees a hand behind the brush of the artist. For Christians, the masterpiece points clearly to artist, the energy, thought and designer of all. But with Pantheism, the masterpiece evokes a bunch of muddy questions:
How did all of these beautiful things get here? Does every animal have a spirit and every plant too? It seems like vegetarianism only addresses a piece of this issue. How do we differentiate between the different levels of life? If all are equally valuable, then we should really not be eating any plants either. And taking humans out of the question, animals still eat animals. What does Pantheism have to say about this heartless system?
In contrast, Psalm 145:10 declares that “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord.”
Viscount Dillion comments further here–
“It is a poor philosophy and a narrow religion which does not recognise God as all in all. Every moment of our lives, we breathe, stand, or move in the temple of the Most High; for the universe is that temple….
O God! everywhere we see thy love! Creation, in all its length and breadth, in all its depth and height, is the manifestation of thy Spirit, and without thee the worlds were dark and dead. The universe is to us as the burning bush which the Hebrew leader saw: God is ever present in it, for it burns with his glory, and the ground on which we stand is always holy.” – “Francis” (Viscount Dillon).