Theism is the belief in one or more gods or
goddesses. More specifically, it may also mean the belief
in God, a god, or gods, who is/are actively involved in maintaining the
Universe. This secondary meaning is shown in context to
other beliefs concerning the divine below.
The term is attested in English from 1678, and was probably coined to contrast with atheism attested from ca. 1587 (see the
etymology section of atheism for details).
Views about the existence of God are commonly divided into these categories:
- Atheism: It has two distinct, commonly used meanings:
- Strong atheism: The doctrine or belief
that there is no God or gods.
- Weak atheism: An absence of belief in the
existence of God or gods.
- Agnosticism: The belief that the existence of
God or gods is unknown and/or inherently unknowable.
- Deism: The doctrine that God created the world but does
not interact with it. This view emphasizes the deities'
- Theism (second definition): The doctrine God(s) is
immanent in the world, yet transcends it:
- Polytheism: The belief that there is more than
- Monolatry: The belief that there is more than one
god, but only one should be worshipped.
- Henotheism: The belief that there is more than
one god, but one is supreme.
- Kathenotheism: The belief that there is
more than one god, but only one god at a time should be worshipped. Each is supreme in turn.
- Monotheism: The belief in one god.
- Monism: The belief that everything is of one essential
- Dualism: The belief that everything is of two
essential essences or energies.
The belief that everything is of many essential essences or energies.
- Panentheism: The belief that the world is
entirely contained within God, while at the same time God is something greater than just the world.
- Pantheism: The belief that the world is identical
Within Polytheism there are “Hard” and “Soft” varieties.
Hard polytheism views the gods as being
distinct and separate beings, while soft
polytheism views the gods as being subsumed into a greater whole.
Within monotheism there are exclusive and inclusive forms. Exclusive monotheism can be monistic (Judaism, Islam), dualistic (Parsis/Zoroastrian)
and pluralistic ("Christianity"). Some forms of Hinduism and Neopaganism could be considered Inclusive monotheism.
Finally, the distinction can be made between belief in the existence of gods, and assertions about their benevolence or morality, or the
belief in God as the summum bonum: see
eutheism and dystheism.
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