The belief in one God, usually considered to be the Creator of the world and its moral systems as well as an omniscient, constant presence in people’s lives. It is therefore contrasted with polytheism, the belief in many gods, and atheism, the belief in no god. The term is usually associated with the great monotheistic tradition that includes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which not only preach a single God but wholeheartedly reject the possibility of other gods, considering such beliefs to be idolatry. The ancient Jewish scriptures suggest that Judaism was not originally monotheistic in the strictest sense. Instead, Jews believed in their one God while acknowledging that other peoples might have their own gods. Over time, however, the Jews’ blanket rejection of other gods makes it accurate to speak of the faith as monotheistic. Zoroastrianism, which arose in Iran in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., might also be able to lay a claim to being the first t r uly monoth eistic faith. Christianity’s monotheism is complicated by the doctrine of the Trinity, which preaches that God is three-in-one (Father, The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. Son, and Holy Spirit); Islam’s monotheism is much more literal and straightforward. Even Hinduism might in some senses be considered monotheistic. Its many colorful gods are considered by many Hindu theologians to be not separate entities but instead aspects of a single, universal divine essence. SEE ALSO: atheism; polytheism

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