I found this diagram really useful in depicting the different ways people see the relationship between God and the universe:
In theism, God and the universe are separate, but God can intervene in creation. In deism, God and the universe are separate and distinct from one other, with no interaction between the two. In pantheism, God and the universe are one and the same. In atheism, the universe exists, but God doesn’t. And finally, in panentheism, the universe is ‘in God’.
I believe that God is omnipresent, and importantly, He did not only create the universe but He also sustains it. Every atom is being held in existence by God. Because I don’t believe anything can exist independently of God, I see a problem in the ‘theism’ model, which depicts a God who is only sometimes involved in creation. For similar reasons, the deism model doesn’t work, as it depicts a universe existing totally independent of God.
I obviously take issue with the atheism model, as I believe creation requires a creator. I don’t like the pantheism model either, as it seems to imply that if the universe ceased to exist, so would God, and this can’t be right. God is more than the universe.
So this leads me to panentheism, the model where creation is in God, but God is more than creation. This makes good sense to me; God is obviously greater than anything He creates, but He also has a sustaining role as He holds in existence all He creates. He could destroy the universe and yet would remain perfect and whole.
Which of these models do you feel is right, and why?