The idea that the universe or the world equals God is actually the oldest form of theism, predating any mono- or polytheistic variety. The vast majority of pagan religions are pantheistic. The "people" who you talk about who "mean" something whe they say God are not a monolithic mass. God means very very different things in different cultures and in different contexts. The idea that God is a big, old man sitting bored above the clouds interfering in our loves and being endowed with male genitals is only shared by a few and not even all Jews, Muslims and Christians. It does not exist in any other religions.
However, none of this matters to us as Zoroastrians. Because we don't believe in God anyway, we believe in Ahura Mazda. The word God does not appear anywhere in our religion, especially not in The Gathas since the concept of the monotheistic God was invented 400 years after Zarathushtra. If you find any Avestan word for God, I would be most interested to share this knowledge wirh you. This does not mean that Ahura Mazda can not have God-like features. Ronald Delavega certainly beloves so and many Zoroastrians share his conviction. But Ahura Mazda is still not at all like the Christian God or the Muslim Allah, and we should keep it that way too.
----- Original Message -----
From: SHAHROOZ ASH
To: Parviz Varjavand ; Ushta Ushta ; zoroastrians
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:49 PM
Subject: RE: [zoroastrians] Mazdaism is not Monism
Linguistic and conceptual problems associated with Pantheism/Monism.
The concept of God, is not the same as, the concept of the universe. We already have a word for the universe, and we do not need another one. When we say God we mean a different concept than the concept of the universe. You are not using the language correctly.
What you can say, and should say, is that, there is only the universe and no God. When people say God, they do not mean the universe. When we say Banana, we do not mean an Elephant, and, we say an Elephant we do not mean a Banana. This is what you are doing.
Owen (1971: 69-70) says, "if 'God' (theos) is identical with the Universe (to pan) it is merely another name for the Universe. It is therefore bereft of any distinctive meaning; so that pantheism is equivalent to atheism.
" Similarly, Schopenhauer (1951: 40) said that "to call the world 'God' is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word 'world'."
Christopher Rowe (1980: 54-5) says, "When Cicero's Velleius describes Speusippus' pantheism as an attempt to 'root out the notion of gods from our minds'.
Schopenhauer, Coleridge, Owen etc. can show, that pantheism can be explained in terms that would either eliminate the notion of deity from pantheism altogether, or that it is incoherent. They want to show that believing in a pantheistic God is a convoluted and confused way of believing in something that can adequately be described apart from any notion of deity.
Pantheism has a lot more problems than Dualism. Their supporters have failed to address the problems associated with pantheism. And, attacks on dualism will not hide the problems pantheism faces.
1. Pantheism claims there is only the universe, Material world, only substance. This means, there is no God, and thus Atheism. Note: in Zoroastrianism there clearly is a God, Ahura Mazda. Thus Pantheism is not compatible with Zoroastrianism in terms of God.
2. If the world is just substance (Material), then there is no FREE WILL because, every physical event must have a physical cause. Note: Zoroastrianism clearly believes in free will. Thus Pantheism is not compatible with Zoroastrianism in terms of FREE WILL.
3. If the world is just substance (Material), then there is no MIND, only the BRAIN. Thus, they should stop using the word MIND, and should start using the word BRAIN. If not, then once again they are misusing the language. Note: in Zoroastrianism there clearly is the concept of the Mind (Mana). Thus Pantheism is not compatible with Zoroastrianism in terms of the MIND.
4. If the world is just substance (Material), then every physical event must have a physical cause. This also means; no ethics, no right and wrong, no one is blame worthy or praise worthy, there is no difference between Hitler and Jesus. Note: in Zoroastrianism there clearly is the concept of right and wrong (Ethics), and taking responsibility for ones action. Thus Pantheism is not compatible with Zoroastrianism in terms of ethics.
Therefore, it is absurd to claim Zoroastrianism believes there is no; Free will, Right and Wrong (Ethics), no God (Ahura Mazda) and no Mind. Zoroastrianism is not compatible with pantheism. Zoroastrianism is to beautiful to be degrade with pantheism's
dark and cold outlook.
Wishing you all the best (BEHESHT)