I don’t have a lot of time, but for those interested, I thought I’d keep things going with some vocabulary. (BTW, so much hatred on the web. My goodness, how can people be so vicious about another’s idea of God?)
From The Universal Pantheist Society
The Relation of Pantheism to Religious Evolution
by James Picton
When man first emerged, he surely mixed himself with the world. Life was everywhere, but to man, had not yet taken the form of spirits or magic.
Many societies adopt some form of ancestor worship. From this led the notion of souls able to detach themselves from bodies, and therefore to survive death. Later, animism resulted in a fascination for strange-looking, weird, or imposing objets enshrining some sacred potency for good or evil, mostly the latter. Both types of animism survive all over the world in various modified forms, and are traceable even in the doctrines and ritual of advanced theological and ceremonial religions.
Polytheism is a belief in many personal gods, among whom one may be primary. This is a higher development of animism, prevalent in Europe down to the fourth and even fifth century A.D., and in India down to the present time.
Henotheism of the local worship of one god to the neglect of others, while the existence and local power of the gods of other tribes is not denied. this was the religion of Israel from the early time until perhaps the seventh century, B.C. Henotheism was also favored by local populations in ancient Egypt.
Monotheism is the worship of one personal God as the only deity, all others being treated either as devils or as non-existent. This began to be the religion of Israel from the seventh century, promoted by its early prophets. Likewise, the monotheism of Mohammed owed a great deal to Jewish tradition, but if anything is even more intensely ñunitarianî than Judaism and certainly more than the modern form of Christianity with its concept of the Trinity. Under modern Christianity, the doctrines of Trinity and Incarnation have prepared the way for a larger conception of Deity.
Pantheism is the idea of the Universe as one living Being, of which all creatures and things are parts thereof. This religion of the Universe was implicit in animism, much as the tree is implicit in its seed. So, in one sense Pantheism is prehistoric and co-evolved with the first emergence of man. Pantheist ideas are common in Vedic literature, and in various Amerindian religions. Today, with scientific understanding and the aid of the philosophy of Spinoza, there is a re-emergence of modern Pantheism. In its modernized form, it is now being readily accepted as a major religion of the people.
UPDATE: Initially, I had included this note, “This is not exactly my understanding of Panentheism because it is minus the “and then some” that I put with the “God is everything” bit. Also, I think the aid of Spinoza is fair, but I don’t think Spinoza was a panentheist.” Matt pointed out that this paragraph is actually about Pantheism not Panentheism. Shameful. If you don’t have time to do it right don’t do it. So, here’s the definition of PanENtheism from wikipedia:
Panentheism A panentheistic belief system is one which posits that the one God interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.
If you’d like to read a pretty academic piece on the difference between the two, here’s a good piece. I will try to do better next time.