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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.

The primary meaning sees four major views of the role of the divine in the world in this context:

Within the primary meaning of theism there can be differentiated a number of quantitative definitions:

Within Polytheism there are “Hard” and “Soft” varieties. Hard polytheism views the gods as being distinct and separate beings, Soft polytheism views the gods as being subsumed into a greater whole.

Within Polytheism a number of attitudes to the worship of the gods can be discerned.

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.

Typical theistic religions are Zoroastrianism, Saivism, Vaishnavism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism.

Compare: Atheism, Agnosticism


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