John Toland’s birthday

English: John Toland (November 30, 1670 - Marc...

John Toland (1670-1722). This portrait of John Toland appears in the frontpiece of Professor Daniel’s book, John Toland: His Methods, Manners, and Mind. This is the only known portrait of John Toland. Interestingly, it shows him holding a copy of his book, Pantheisticon (1720).

November 20 is the birthday of John Toland who is credited with coining the term “pantheism”.  The following excerpt comes from “John Toland” by Gary Suttle (2002):

“A book Toland wrote in 1705 entitled Socinianism truly stated…recommended by a Pantheist to an orthodox friend contains the first known use of the term “pantheist” in an English language publication. On page seven he acknowledged “The Pantheists…of which number I profess myself to be one.” In 1709, a Toland critic named J. Fay used the term “pantheism” in English, and both terms quickly became common. (Joseph Raphson, a Cambridge mathematician, originated the words “pantheist” and “pantheism” in a 1697 theological work written in Latin…Toland had read Raphson’s book).

“Toland earlier expressed pantheist theory in Clito (1700) and in Letters to Serena (1704). He thought “All things were full of God,” and pronounced that “The sun is my father, the earth my mother, the world is my brother and all men are my family.” The Roman materialist Lucritius and especially the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno ( martyred for his pantheistic beliefs) greatly influenced Toland. He translated and defended Bruno’s Latin treatise on the infinite universe.

“Toland detailed his own pantheism in Pantheisticon: sive Formula celebrandae Sodalitatis Socraticae / Pantheisticon: or, the Form of Celebrating the Socratic Society (1720, English translation, 1751). He believed in a boundless universe. He visualized the unity of all matter and the ceaseless motion of atoms. He spurned personal immortality yet averred that “Nothing dies totally, the death of one thing brings the birth of another, by a universally reciprocal exchange, and everything contributes necessarily to the preservation and welfare of the Whole.”

“Toland identified God with the Universe:

‘The power and energy of All, which has created all and which governs all…is God, which you may call Spirit and Soul of the Universe. This is why the Socratic Associates have been called pantheists, because according to them this soul cannot be separated from the Universe itself.’

2 Comments on “John Toland’s birthday

  1. Pingback: November Mid-Month Meditation: Panthea | Humanistic Paganism

  2. Pingback: What to look forward to in November at HP | Humanistic Paganism


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