As I was reading another John C. Wright essay (plagiarized for all following quotations), I saw an opportunity to put these positions down without doing a lot of typing myself. I encourage you to clarify your positions on each topic similarly, presuming the big questions are a vice of yours. Off we go!
While there are myriads of opinions, theories, worldviews, philosophies, heresies and denominations, there are also certain broad categories into which, without any injustice, large groups of these worldviews fall.
We can list the possible relationships the natural world might have with the divine, because there is not an infinite number of possibilities. God is either immanent (within nature) or transcendent (outside nature) or both, or neither. God is either none or one or many. I believe that covers all the possibilities, or, at least, all the major ones.
If there are no gods, this is atheism. In this case, god is neither immanent nor transcendent, because he does not exist at all. There is no relationship between the natural world and the supernatural because the supernatural is nonexistent.
As I’ve roughly explained, our current knowledge of physics logically excludes the possibility that the universe is an infinite, closed system. Therefore, I believe something supernatural must exist.
I also believe in (at least one) intelligent creator for less substantial reasons. According to my understanding of Christian mystical symbolism, I do not believe the original creator is immanent, but rather watches as his “son” (perhaps by lack of terminology for heavenly things) governs the place.
(There’s a pattern in Christology that descriptions of Jesus tend to be precisely true in the natural sense, as well as referential to supernatural things. Both man and God, that sort of thing. But I wouldn’t assert that as true, which means I’m not in perfect agreement with the Nicene Creed.)
Which is to say that I recognize categorical differences between creator(s), owner(s), and godlike beings (angels, demons, and anything in between). The creator need not be present within the universe (although he could be, and I think he keeps an eye on the place), the governor is within the universe and almost certainly can access the outside as well, and the godlike beings are within the universe and possibly can access the outside.
So I’m a transcendentalist, theist, and para-immanentist.
If there is no material world, this is Buddhism, or Gnosticism, or some other form of Immaterialism. In this case, God is both immanent and transcendent, because God is all that ultimately exists, everything else being an illusion or emanation of God. There is no relationship between the natural world and the supernatural because the natural is nonexistent, a mere delirium.
This is also in accordance with the “God as game designer” theory, where the universe is a program running on some divine computer. I believe there is no useful distinction between a “created” or “emanated” universe, any more than there is a useful distinction between this post and a sequence of electrical voltages on a server somewhere in Topeka.
So I’m technically an immaterialist. You may be tempted to read too much into that; reread the previous paragraph until you’ve satisfied yourself.
If the divine is one and the same as the natural world, this is pantheism. In such a case god is both one and many, a multiform unity that permeates all beings. The Stoics and Neoplatonists had conceptions along these lines, as do Taoists, Hindu and Theosophists.
I am open to the possibility. I see no logical absurdity in the possibilities that the Creator(s) or the Governor(s) contain the universe within themselves. There is some question of imperfections within the universe (moral and perhaps otherwise) that cannot be “contained” within any member of the Christian trinity. But we can’t pretend to understand the supernatural traits of God with reason, and recall that one of those members regularly socialized with sinners.
That means I’m an agnostic pantheist.
If the divine set the world in motion at the moment of creation and otherwise neither touches nor interferes with His work, this is Deism. The god is transcendent but not immanent.
I believe this is probably true, but not necessarily. So I’m an agnostic deist.
If there are many gods which arose from the natural operations of the world, and who are therefore contingent but not necessary beings, this is polytheism or paganism. Such gods are immanent but not transcendent. All of primitive animism, the pantheons of Africa and the Americas, the various folklores and myths of the classical and Norse fit into this definition, as does Shinto, and, I dare say, any religion which lacks a theology. Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism cannot be neatly fit into a polytheistic definition, because their theology is more subtle and civilized.
I believe this is certainly true. While The Illiad may not have been historically accurate, the Bible certainly says that these beings exist and meddle in human affairs to non-negligible effect.
A couple of notes on this: the meddlesome tranche of these demigods have a biblical reputation for obsession with human sexuality and genetics, going so far as to breed with them (demi-demigods). The tranche of demigods who have discourse with the Creator and/or Governor in the Bible are almost certainly transcendental.
So I’m a polytheist
While there is nothing that makes it theoretically impossible to posit the existence of many transcendent gods, I confess I can bring to mind no real examples from history or anthropology.
Lacking a uniqueness theorem we should assume multiple transcendent gods. There are no fancy Latin words for this :-P.
Of those who believe God to be transcendent and immanent, that is, both above the world and working within it, all are either monotheists, as Jews, Christian, and Mohammedans; or else hold there are two equal and opposed gods of light and darkness, as the Zoroastrians or Manicheans.
As I’ve said, I cannot logically exclude the possibility of multiple transcendental gods. But my brain is multicameral, and I am practically an agnostic monotheist. This is not inconsistent with the definition for polytheism above. Keep in mind the categorical differences between various types of “god”.