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A Pandeistic Universe

Knujon Mapson Author Interview

Knujon Mapson Author Interview

Pandeism: An Anthology is a collection of work from different authors that seeks to provide intellectual backing to the idea of pandeism. Why was this an important book for you to put together?

Pandeism is a pretty old idea, but is one which has very long been little known — discussed almost exclusively in scholarly and academic settings, and usually in a sort of abstract and theoretical way. Perhaps that will always be its primary locus of discussion, but as scientific knowledge comes to match up better and better with a pandeistic Universe, it would be a wonderful thing for people to be made aware that this possibility is out there. And as the Anthology writings show, it has proved itself worthy of consideration from many angles.

There is surely some long-term gain to be realized, as well, from a world wherein people generally understand that all things are part of our Creator, and all life ought to be accorded the respect due to even a fragment of our Creator. And even as Pandeists bear no club with which to threaten ‘disbelievers’ with eternal torment or the like, imagine how you might react if you felt there was a possibility — a reasonably high probability even — that if ours were a created Universe at all, then it would be the sort of Universe in which your own actions towards others (and, more largely writ, everybody else’s actions towards everybody else) directly dictated the experiences which would be had by your Creator; and not only by your Creator but quite possibly by every entity ever existing — including yourself, to some immeasurable extent, all of these being your Creator, which has momentarily (for perhaps just a few hundred billion years) become fragmented apart. If there is any possibility that we are creating experiences to be shared with by our Creator, ought we not by this knowledge to be motivated to create positive experiences, for ourselves, and for one another?

And though all of these are, in my view, respectable reasons for my advocacy and regular formulation of new arguments, the simple truth is that I love the idea for its elegance, for its simplicity, for the strength of its explanatory power wrapped in extrapolations from a few simple assumptions of logical necessity. And so I want to pull it down from the academic tower and present it in ways suitable for a larger slice of the world to get to grasp it.

You work with sixteen authors on this anthology. How did this book come together and what was it like working with so many bright writers?

As to how it all came about, I first began putting together the ideas for a book on the topic some thirteen years ago. I always knew that I wanted to write about Pandeism, and I researched intensely, and found other people who had written on the topic and in the area. I never intended to do an anthology, but as I worked on my own book, it seemed to just get more and more sprawling. I was trying to grasp in all of the ideas that I could possibly cover, and it was more than I could do. And then, at some point, I simply threw my hands up and decided that it was not something that I would ever be able to finish.

But, as I pored over the many writings which I had accumulated in the area overtime, and the connections I had made with people who write in this area, I was struck by the fact that I might well be able to assemble enough to make a book that captured many of the ideas that I wished to express, but which had already been put into words in other ways by other people. And once I had had that realization, the whole structure of the book, the give and take and opposing viewpoints and variety of possible approaches simply came together, almost instantaneously. I immediately knew, for example, that I wanted to have poems punctuated the sections, and to divide the book in the general sort of way in which it ended up, and I am tremendously gratified with the result.

One of the most remarkable experiences and joys of my life has been working with these authors. I ought to mention that two of the writers were deceased — one, nearly one hundred years before, and the other just a few years ago, a good friend who I had been in communication with and who had written his piece for me before his quite untimely death, years before I ever knew I was going to assemble an anthology. But as to all the rest, every one of them was note only a unique and powerfully thoughtful and excellent to communicate with, but remains a friend. Really, it is like we are a family of fellow travelers along the same route. There are several of them who I bounce ideas off of frequently.

The book is separated into three sections, the fundamentals of Pandeism, philosophical implications, and criticism from other views. Why was it important to include alternate analysis of pandeism?

Most works on a specific theological point of view are told from the proposition of that view being true. And indeed, even anthologies written within specific faiths tend often to be single-minded collections of endorsements of that faith. There is something about such an approach which instead rings untrue to me — if your belief system is so ironclad, why only present one side of it? And yet we know there are those who dispute the truth of every theological model, so why not present their arguments directly and let the reader choose who has made more sense? Why collect an anthology at all if all the views provided assume the same position?

If we only present arguments favoring Pandeism, or even present only one view of Pandeism, then we are doing the readers a disservice. It is not the sort of position which can be insisted to be true in a gnostic sense. It is one logical possibility out of a field of them, with certain points of logical appeal, but at the same time with an acknowledged impossibility of knowing the truth of it. And even if there are those who believe that it is untrue, it presents a paradigm which they must contend with. Neither Atheism nor any Theistic faith can escape the intellectual obligation to confront the possibility of this model, and when they do so, and commit to it in a serious way, some great and deep writing is bound to result from this.

What do you hope readers take away from Pandeism: An Anthology?

Well, firstly I really hope that readers take away the sense that Pandeism, as a theological model, is indeed a serious possibility. And secondly, I hope to just really make people think about all the possibilities that are out there, and the fact that there are indeed so many possibilities which are unknown. I want readers to feel a bit challenged and a bit enlightened and more than a bit informed. One thing, I think, about this book, with its breadth of authors and approaches from diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints, is that it is impossible to read it through without learning something of interest, something which will stay with you for the rest of your life thereafter. I hope that readers take away a lot of feelings like that, and that every reader takes away at least something like that.

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Pandeism: An Anthology presents the work of sixteen authors, new and old, examining the implications of the revolutionary evolutionary theological theory of Pandeism – the proposition that the Creator of our Universe created by becoming our Universe, and that this proposition can be demonstrated through the exercise of logic and reason. These authors present a wide range of views originating from their varied experiences, from professional theologians and religious educators to lay philosophers with PhDs in the hard sciences. Collectively, these authors have assembled the most extensive examination of Pandeism put to print in over a hundred years.

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Civil War Over Ideology

Matthew StanleyThe Empty One is an epic fantasy novel setup like other epic poetry in the past; Beowulf for example. Why did you choose to write in verse for the book and what was your experience writing in this style?

Verse can set a tone that cannot ordinarily be achieved through the use of prose, and by using poetic phrases, more can be conveyed in just a single line than in an entire paragraph otherwise. For example by using short, quick words in succession, you can convey a kind of rushed and hurried atmosphere; conversely, longer phrasing sets up a more relaxed scene. Subtle keys such as these allow for a lot fewer ex-positional portions within the novel, and make room for action and character development. While writing in this style, I took a lot of inspiration from the epic poems of India, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads – and as these dealt with fantastic situations and characters, poetry seemed a natural choice for my book, as well. When it came to my experience with writing in this style, it was challenging and rewarding at the same time. It took several weeks to come up with just the right phrasing in certain parts, because I simply didn’t like the mood or atmosphere of a particular section. (The hardest part was chapter twenty-six; it took so many rewrites to get that chapter just the way I wanted it, for a while I considered removing it altogether). Additionally, while not being an established writer, I made many safe choices when it came to the rhyme schemes I used – such as only using end rhymes in most places. However, I fully intend to advance to more complex styles in the future entries of the series.

In your novel I picked up some inspiration from other fantasy novels and mythology of the past that I thought played well in the story. What were some of your sources of inspiration for this book?

As mentioned, I took inspiration from The Bhagavad Gita, but I was also influenced by some Greek mythology surrounding The Titans and the Gnostic text The Reality of the Rulers.

In The Empty One there are two nations against one another, The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh, that represent good and evil in the story. How did you create the dichotomy between these two nations?

The history of the two nations is that they were once one land, but split due to a civil war over ideology. They have a common history, language, and even culture in many aspects – but they cannot get past their differences over the definition of morality. They are therefore like brothers that grew apart over the ages, so much so that they have disowned each other. However, just as you might be furious with a loved one if they committed something atrocious yet still feel the need to help them, this is how the two nations exist. Both see the other as completely wrong and evil, but on some level they still feel inexorably connected.

In fantasy novels it’s easy to get carried away with the magical powers characters have. How did you balance the use of supernatural powers in The Empty One?

Magic is incidental to the story, and this was always the intention. The characters were the focus of the narrative. To achieve this, there was an idea that I always kept in mind: Supernatural powers would just be commonplace for any supernatural being, just as locomotion might seem supernatural to a plant but is ordinary for humans. Therefore any character in the book with these types of abilities would not use them to show off and instead they would use them only when the need arose.

What is the next book that you’re working on? When can you fans expect it to come out?

I am working on two books right now: The sequel to The Empty One, which is currently titled The Reaper, and it is also written in the same style (as an epic poem). This second entry into The Fallen Conviction should be out by early 2017.  The other work that I have going is a horror story, not written in verse, which is much less closer to being done, called Mind.

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The Empty One (The Fallen Conviction, #1)Two superpowers – The Akalan Nation and the City States of Shaweh – are at war. The Akalan Nation is a brutal theocracy that believe the City States are evil for not following their beliefs, and both sides are decimated from the years of fighting. In a desperate move to try and win the war for his people and his faith, the king of the Akalans, Darius, enlists the power of a mysterious man with supernatural powers named Lialthas, who claims to be an angel sent to help the righteous win the war against the disbelievers.  However, as Darius soon discovers, Lialthas is not who he says he is – and he has his own motives and aspirations to power.

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