Beliefs about deity/deities in different religions
What different faith groups believe about their deity/deities:
The religions of the world teach a wide diversity of concepts about
deity. Books have been published which list over 1,000 Gods or over 1,000
Goddesses who have been worshiped in various eras and locations.
At first glance, a person who is investigating the entire "God"
concept for the first time might conclude that all of these diverse
deities are purely human creations. That is: God did not create humanity
-- humanity created Gods.
However, in practice, most people believe that the God or the Goddess or
Gods or Goddesses of their faith tradition is or are real, whereas all
of the thousands of other deities are human creations, who are
nonexistent, except in the minds of humans. Some people believe in an all-evil entity called Satan and attribute religions other than their own to Satan.
In practice, a person's beliefs about deity/deities is largely an accident related to one's birth location. They largely depend upon the faith group followed by one's family of origin, which in turn largely dependent upon the country and region where one is born.
Beliefs about deity cover a wide range, including, in alphabetic order:
Agnosticism: having reached no conclusion whether God exists.
(See Agnosticism) Some Agnostics believe that the existence of God will never be proved or disproved.
Animism. The belief that all entities have life force, a soul or mind. For example, rocks, trees and
mountains have an awareness of their surroundings: (e.g. Native
However, American Atheists, the largest
group of Atheists in the U.S. define Atheism as having no belief in God.
A newborn would not be considered an Atheist within the dictionary
definition, but would be an Atheist according to the American Atheists.
Deism: The belief that God exists,
but is remote, unknowable and uninvolved. They believe that God created the universe, set it going,
has not taken an active interest in it since. This was a
popular belief among intellectuals during and after the American revolution. It shows
up in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and its references
to to "Nature's God," and "Creator."
It is a rapidly growing belief today. However, many Deists are unaware of the existence of Deism.
Duotheism (a.k.a. Bitheism):
belief in a dual divinity: (e.g. Wicca and Zoroastrianism). In
the case of Wicca, one deity is female, the other male; in Zoroastrianism one is all good
while the other is all evil.
Henotheism. belief in many deities of which only one is
the supreme deity. This may involve:
One chief God and multiple gods and goddesses of lesser power
and importance. Ancient Greek and Roman religions were of this type.
One supreme God, and multiple gods and goddesses who are all
simply manifestations or aspects of the supreme God. Hinduism is one example; they recognize Brahman as the single deity. Some Wiccans believe in a single deity about which they know little. They call
the deity "The One" or "The All."
They recognize the God and Goddess as the male and female aspects
of that one supreme deity.
One supreme God who rules over a country, and many other gods
and goddesses who have similar jurisdiction over other
territories. Liberal theologians believe that the ancient Israelites
in the early years of the Hebrew nation were henotheists. They worshipped Jehovah
as the supreme God over Israel, but
recognized the existence of Baal and other deities who ruled over other
tribes. The monotheistic concept of "Yahweh only" came later.
Monism: The belief that what people perceive as deity, humanity and the rest of the universe is in fact all
of one substance - that divisions among the body, mind, flesh, spirit, material, physical
are not real. All are simply aspects of one being.
Monotheism: Thebelief in a single God. Examples
include Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism). Within
Christianity, most denominations consider themselves to be monotheistic,
even though they teach the existence of three separate persons within in the
Trinity. Some theologians believe that religiously inspired violence is more commonly found
among monotheists than among polytheists or Atheists. However if one views communism as a religion, its followers are Atheists and responsible for tens of millions of persons exterminated in various genocides.
Panentheism: The belief that the entire universe --
substances, forces and laws -- is God; the universe is God's body.
God transcends the universe as well. (e.g. some components of New Age belief).
Pantheism: The belief that every existing entity (humans, animals, etc.) together, is
a part of God.They do not see God as having a personality, the ability to make
decisions, etc. Rather, God is the very spiritual essence of the
Polytheism: belief in many Gods and Goddesses: (e.g. various Neopagan religions, where each deity has a specific specialty or function. Hinduism is often looked upon in the west as a polytheistic religion).
Trinity: belief in a single deity who has three aspects
(e.g. historical Christianity, whose members generally believe in
Trinity formed by three persons: a Father, Son and
Holy Spirit who they view as being a single entity). Christians often look upon God as being omniscient (all-knowing) ,
omnipotent (all powerfl), omnipresent (present everywhere) and omnibeneficient (all good.) Some liberal Christians believe that such a
list of attributes is logically contradictory and thus impossible.
Many specific denominations and faith groups are difficult to categorize. For example,
a religion might teach the belief in a single God, and a large number of minor deities,
heroes, or saints who have some powers normally restricted to deities.
It might be considered a monotheistic religion in theory or a polytheistic/henotheistic religion in
Faith groups' beliefs about other topics:
There is essentially no consensus among religions on any factor related to:
religious belief, ritual, organization
personal sexual behavior
Some examples (in alphabetic order) are:
Abortion: allowed, prohibited, allowed under some
Adult celibacy: encouraged, accepted, discouraged
Afterlife: unknown, heaven/hell,
purgatory, limbo, reincarnation,
transmigration of the soul, nirvana.
Animal sacrifices: common, rare, prohibited
Appearance: no real rules, beard, shave, no makeup, no jewelry