God

God

Overview
God is the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 name
Names of God
Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in liturgy or prayer of various world religions. Prayer involving the Holy Name or the Name of God has become established as common spiritual practice in both Western and Eastern spiritual practices...

 given to a singular being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

 in theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 and deistic
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s (and other belief system
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s) who is either the sole deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 in monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

, or a single deity in polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

.

God is most often conceived of as the supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 creator
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

 and overseer of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. Theologians
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God
Conceptions of God
The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:...

. The most common among these include omniscience
Omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

 (infinite knowledge), omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

 (unlimited power), omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

 (present everywhere), omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". It is often held to be impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such property along side omniscience and omnipotence as a result of the problem of evil...

 (perfect goodness), divine simplicity
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

, and eternal and necessary existence.

God has also been conceived as being incorporeal
Incorporeal
Incorporeal or uncarnate means without the nature of a body or substance . The idea of incorporeality refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or "place", that is distinct from the corporeal or material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made out of matter...

 (immaterial
Immaterial
Immaterial may refer to* The opposite of matter, material, materialism, or materialistic* Incorporeality* Immaterialism, or subjective idealism* Immaterial , a 2002 short story collection by Robert Hood...

), a personal
Personal God
A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"....

 being, the source of all moral obligation
Moral obligation
The term moral obligation has a number of meanings in moral philosophy, in religion, and in layman's terms. Generally speaking, when someone says of an act that it is a "moral obligation," they refer to a belief that the act is one prescribed by their set of values.Moral philosophers differ as to...

, and the "greatest conceivable existent".
Discussion
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Unanswered Questions
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Quotations

In the Beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Douglas Adams, in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe|The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Ch. 1

"Does God know he [exists]?" "Of course he does. Otherwise, you could not have asked the question, and I could not have answered."

Douglas Adams

When I observe into what inconsistent absurdities those persons run who make speculative, metaphysical religion a matter of importance, I am fully determined never to puzzle myself in the mazes of religious discussion, [and] to content myself with practicing the dictates of God and reason so far as I can judge for myself...

John Adams

Facts are the words of God, and we may heap them together endlessly, but they will teach us little or nothing till we place them in their true relations, and recognize the thought that binds them together.

Louis Agassiz

It is the job of prophets and scientists alike to proclaim the glories of God

Louis Agassiz

"We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last."

Muhammad Ali

God will not place a burden on a man's shoulders knowing that he cannot carry it.

Muhammad Ali

God is either cruel or incompetent.

Woody Allen

How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?

Woody Allen

If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.

Woody Allen
Encyclopedia
God is the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 name
Names of God
Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in liturgy or prayer of various world religions. Prayer involving the Holy Name or the Name of God has become established as common spiritual practice in both Western and Eastern spiritual practices...

 given to a singular being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

 in theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 and deistic
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s (and other belief system
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s) who is either the sole deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 in monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

, or a single deity in polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

.

God is most often conceived of as the supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 creator
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

 and overseer of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. Theologians
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God
Conceptions of God
The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:...

. The most common among these include omniscience
Omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

 (infinite knowledge), omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

 (unlimited power), omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

 (present everywhere), omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". It is often held to be impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such property along side omniscience and omnipotence as a result of the problem of evil...

 (perfect goodness), divine simplicity
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

, and eternal and necessary existence.

God has also been conceived as being incorporeal
Incorporeal
Incorporeal or uncarnate means without the nature of a body or substance . The idea of incorporeality refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or "place", that is distinct from the corporeal or material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made out of matter...

 (immaterial
Immaterial
Immaterial may refer to* The opposite of matter, material, materialism, or materialistic* Incorporeality* Immaterialism, or subjective idealism* Immaterial , a 2002 short story collection by Robert Hood...

), a personal
Personal God
A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"....

 being, the source of all moral obligation
Moral obligation
The term moral obligation has a number of meanings in moral philosophy, in religion, and in layman's terms. Generally speaking, when someone says of an act that it is a "moral obligation," they refer to a belief that the act is one prescribed by their set of values.Moral philosophers differ as to...

, and the "greatest conceivable existent". These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 theologian philosophers, including Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, and Al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

, respectively. Many notable medieval philosophers
Medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

 and modern philosophers
Modern philosophy
Modern philosophy is a type of philosophy that originated in Western Europe in the 17th century, and is now common worldwide. It is not a specific doctrine or school , although there are certain assumptions common to much of it, which helps to distinguish it from earlier philosophy.The 17th and...

 have developed arguments for  and against the existence of God
Existence of God
Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

.

Etymology and usage



The earliest written form of the Germanic word god comes from the 6th century Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 Codex Argenteus
Codex Argenteus
The Codex Argenteus, "Silver Book", is a 6th century manuscript, originally containing bishop Ulfilas's 4th century translation of the Bible into the Gothic language. Of the original 336 folios, 188—including the Speyer fragment discovered in 1970—have been preserved, containing the...

. The English word itself is derived from the Proto-Germanic * ǥuđan. Most linguists agree that the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 form was based on the root , which meant either "to call" or "to invoke". The Germanic words for god were originally neuter
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

—applying to both genders—but during the process of the Christianization
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 of the Germanic peoples from their indigenous Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

, the word became a masculine syntactic form
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

.

In the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, the capitalized form of God continues to represent a distinction between monotheistic "God" and "gods" in polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

. The English word God and its counterparts in other languages are normally used for any and all conceptions and, in spite of significant differences between religions, the term "God" remains an English translation common to all.. The same holds for Hebrew El
El (god)
is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "deity", cognate to Akkadian and then to Hebrew : Eli and Arabic )....

, but in Judaism
Names of God in Judaism
In Judaism, the name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world. To demonstrate the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for...

, God is also given a proper name, the tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

 (written YHWH), in origin the name of a Edomite or Midianite deity, Yahweh
Yahweh (Canaanite deity)
The hypothesis of a Canaanite deity named Yahweh or Yahwi is accepted by some Ancient Near Eastern scholars, although no direct evidence from archeology has been found. The name Yahwi may possibly be found in some male Amorite names...

.
In many translations of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, when the word "LORD" is in all capitals, it signifies that the word represents the tetragrammaton. Allāh
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

( allāh) is the Arabic term with no plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

 or gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

 used by Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians and Jews meaning "The God" (with a capital G), while "[[ʾilāh]]" ( ellāh) is the term used for a deity or a god in general. God may also be given a proper name in monotheistic currents of Hinduism which emphasize the personal nature of God
Personal God
A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"....

, with early references to his name as Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

-Vasudeva
Vasudeva
In Hindu itihasa , Vasudeva is the father of Krishna, the son of Shoorsen, of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties. His sister Kunti was married to Pandu. He was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap....

 in Bhagavata
Bhagavata
Bhagavata signifies in the context of Hinduism. In this context bhakti has the primary meaning of 'adoration', while Bhagavat means 'the Adorable One', and Bhagavata is a worshiper of the Adorable One...

 or later Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 and Hari
Hari
Hari is an Avatar, another name of and , and appears as the 650th name in the Vishnu sahasranama of Mahabharata. In Sanskrit "hari" sometimes refers to a colour, green, yellow, or fawn-coloured/khaki. It is the colour of the Sun and of Soma...

.

General conceptions




There is no clear consensus on the nature of God. The Abrahamic conceptions of God
Abrahamic conceptions of God
The religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called "Abrahamic religions", because they all accept the traditions of that God revealed himself to the patriarch Abraham....

 include the monotheistic definition of God in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, the trinitarian
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 view of Christians, and the Islamic concept of God.
The dharmic religions differ in their view of the divine: views of God in Hinduism vary by region, sect, and caste, ranging from monotheistic to polytheistic to atheistic. Divinity were recognized
God in Buddhism
The refutation of the notion of a supreme God or a prime mover is seen by many as a key distinction between Buddhism and other religions. In Buddhism the sole aim of spiritual practice is the complete alleviation of stress in samsara, called nirvana...

 by the historical Buddha, particularly Śakra and Brahma
Brahma (Buddhism)
' in Buddhism is the name for a type of exalted passionless deity , of which there are several in Buddhist cosmology.-Origins:The name originates in Vedic tradition, in which Brahmā appears as the creator of the universe...

. However, other sentient beings, including gods, can at best only play a supportive role in one's personal path to salvation. Conceptions of God in the latter developments of the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 tradition give a more prominent place to notions of the divine.

Oneness



Monotheists
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 hold that there is only one god, and may claim that the one true god is worshiped in different religions under different names. The view that all theists actually worship the same god, whether they know it or not, is especially emphasized in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Sikhism
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

.

Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

's most fundamental concept is a strict monotheism called tawhīd
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

. God is described in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 as: "Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." Muslims repudiate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and divinity of Jesus
Islamic view of Jesus
In Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new scripture, the Injīl or Gospel. The belief in Jesus is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Qur'an mentions Jesus twenty-five times, more often, by...

, comparing it to polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension or equal and does not resemble any of his creations in any way. Thus, Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s are not iconodules
Iconodules
An iconodule is someone who espouses iconodulism, i.e. who supports or is in favor of religious images or icons and their veneration, and is in opposition to an iconoclast, someone against the use of religious images...

, and are not expected to visualize God.

Henotheism
Henotheism
Henotheism is the belief and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities...

 is the belief and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

.

Theism, deism and pantheism



Theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 generally holds that God exists realistically, objectively, and independently of human thought; that God created and sustains everything; that God is omnipotent and eternal; personal and interacting with the universe through for example religious experience
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

 and the prayers of humans. It holds that God is both transcendent and immanent; thus, God is simultaneously infinite and in some way present in the affairs of the world. Not all theists subscribe to all the above propositions, but usually a fair number of them, c.f., family resemblance
Family resemblance
Family resemblance is a philosophical idea made popular by Ludwig Wittgenstein, with the best known exposition being given in the posthumously published book Philosophical Investigations It has been suggested that Wittgenstein picked the idea and the term from Nietzsche, who had been using it,...

. Catholic theology holds that God is infinitely simple
Divine simplicity
In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

 and is not involuntarily subject to time. Most theists hold that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, although this belief raises questions about God's responsibility for evil and suffering in the world. Some theists ascribe to God a self-conscious or purposeful limiting of omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence. Open Theism
Open theism
Open theism is a recent theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas that are related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology...

, by contrast, asserts that, due to the nature of time, God's omniscience does not mean the deity can predict the future. "Theism" is sometimes used to refer in general to any belief in a god or gods, i.e., monotheism or polytheism.

Deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

 holds that God is wholly transcendent
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

: God exists, but does not intervene in the world beyond what was necessary to create it. In this view, God is not anthropomorphic, and does not literally answer prayers or cause miracles to occur. Common in Deism is a belief that God has no interest in humanity and may not even be aware of humanity. Pandeism
Pandeism
Pandeism or Pan-Deism , is a term describing beliefs incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of pantheism and deism Pandeism or Pan-Deism (from and meaning "God" in the sense of deism), is a term describing beliefs incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of...

 and Panendeism, respectively, combine Deism with the Pantheistic or Panentheistic beliefs discussed below.

Pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 holds that God is the universe and the universe is God, whereas Panentheism
Panentheism
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it...

 holds that God contains, but is not identical to, the Universe; the distinctions between the two are subtle. It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church
Liberal Catholic Church
The Liberal Catholic Church is a form of Christianity open to theosophical ideas and even reincarnation. It is not connected to the Roman Catholic Church, which considers it heretical and schismatic...

, Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, some views of Hinduism except Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 which believes in panentheism
Panentheism
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it...

, Sikhism, some divisions of Neopaganism
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 and Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

, along with many varying denominations and individuals within denominations. Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God — which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

, particularly from their founder The Baal Shem Tov — but only as an addition to the Jewish view of a personal god, not in the original pantheistic sense that denies or limits persona to God.

Other concepts


Dystheism, which is related to theodicy
Theodicy
Theodicy is a theological and philosophical study which attempts to prove God's intrinsic or foundational nature of omnibenevolence , omniscience , and omnipotence . Theodicy is usually concerned with the God of the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, due to the relevant...

 is a form of theism which holds that God is either not wholly good or is fully malevolent as a consequence of the problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

. One such example comes from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov
The Brothers Karamazov
The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880...

, in which Ivan Karamazov rejects God on the grounds that he allows children to suffer. Another example would be Theistic Satanism
Theistic Satanism
Theistic Satanism, sometimes referred to as Traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil Worship, is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship. Other characteristics of Theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is...

.

Nontheism
Nontheism
Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of — or the rejection of — theism or any belief in a personal god or gods...

 holds that the universe can be explained without any reference to the supernatural, or to a supernatural being. Some non-theists avoid the concept of God, whilst accepting that it is significant to many; other non-theists understand God as a symbol of human values and aspirations. Others such as Dawkins
Dawkins
Dawkins is an English surname. It is a compound of 'Daw', a common diminutive of 'David' during the Middle Ages, and Kin; literally "the kin of David".It has also been linked with the Keynes family as a derivative name.It may refer to:...

 see the idea of God as entirely pernicious.

In modern times, some more abstract concepts have been developed, such as process theology
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 and open theism
Open theism
Open theism is a recent theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas that are related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology...

. The contemporaneous French philosopher Michel Henry
Michel Henry
Michel Henry was a French philosopher and novelist. He wrote five novels and numerous philosophical works. He also lectured at universities in France, Belgium, the United States of America, and Japan.- Biography :...

 has however proposed a phenomenological approach and definition of God
Phenomenological definition of God
The philosopher Michel Henry defines God in a phenomenological point of view. He says: "God is Life, he is the essence of Life, or, if we prefer, the essence of Life is God...

 as phenomenological essence of Life
Phenomenological life
Phenomenological life is life considered from a philosophical and rigorously phenomenological point of view.- Phenomenological definition of life :...

.

Existence of God



Many arguments which attempt to prove or disprove the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, and other thinkers for many centuries. In philosophical
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 terminology, such arguments concern schools of thought on the epistemology of the ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 of God.

There are many philosophical issues concerning the existence of God. Some definitions of God are sometimes nonspecific, while other definitions can be self-contradictory. Arguments for the existence of God typically include metaphysical, empirical, inductive, and subjective types, while others revolve around perceived holes in evolutionary theory and order and complexity in the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

. Arguments against the existence of God typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive types. Conclusions reached include: "God does not exist" (strong atheism); "God almost certainly does not exist" (de facto atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

); "no one knows whether God exists" (agnosticism
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

); "God exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" (weak theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

); and "God exists and this can be proven" (strong theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

). There are numerous variations on these positions.

Some theologians, such as the scientist and theologian A.E. McGrath
Alister McGrath
Alister Edgar McGrath is an Anglican priest, theologian, and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture...

, argue that the existence of God cannot be adjudicated on for or against by using scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

. Agnostic Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

 argues that science and religion are not in conflict and do not overlap. (Non-overlapping magisteria
Non-overlapping magisteria
Non-overlapping magisteria is the view advocated by Stephen Jay Gould that "science and religion do not glower at each other... [but] interdigitate in patterns of complex fingering, and at every fractal scale of self-similarity." He suggests, with examples, that "NOMA enjoys strong and fully...

)

Epitheta



It is difficult to distinguish between proper names and epitheta of God. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian Bible there are many names for God that portray his nature and character. One of them is elohim
Elohim
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or...

, (which is actually a plural
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

word). Another one is El Shaddai, meaning “God Almighty”. A third notable name is El Elyon, which means “The Most High God”.

God is described and referred in the Quran and hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful" (See Names of God in Islam).

Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, a tradition in Hinduism, has list of titles and names of Krishna.

The spiritual teacher Meher Baba
Meher Baba
Meher Baba , , born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age....

 lists many epitheta and names of God in his Parvardigar Prayer
O Parvardigar
O Parvardigar is the common name of a prayer composed by Meher Baba, sometimes called the Master's Prayer or the Universal Prayer. It is also a song on an album by Pete Townshend....

, including "the Ocean of Love" and "the Highest of the High."

Gender



The gender of God can be viewed as a literal or as an allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 aspect of a deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

. In polytheistic religions, the gods are more likely to have literal sexual genders which would enable them to interact with each other, and even with humans, in a sexual way. In most monotheistic religions, there is no comparable being for God to relate to in a literal gender-based way, so the gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

 of this one-and-only deity is most likely to be an analogical statement of how humans and God address, and relate to, each other, with no sexual connotations.

God is usually characterised as male in Biblical sources, except: female in , , and ; a mother in , , , , , ; a mother eagle in ; and a mother hen in and .

Relationship with creation



Christian theologian Alister McGrath
Alister McGrath
Alister Edgar McGrath is an Anglican priest, theologian, and Christian apologist, currently Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at Kings College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture...

 writes that there are good reasons to suggest that a "personal god" is integral to the Christian outlook, but that one has to understand it is an analogy. "To say that God is like a person is to affirm the divine ability and willingness to relate to others. This does not imply that God is human, or located at a specific point in the universe." Muslims believe that the purpose of existence is to worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

 God. He is viewed as a personal God and there are no intermediaries, such as clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, to contact God who states “We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein
Jugular vein
The jugular veins are veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the head back to the heart via the superior vena cava.-Internal and external:There are two sets of jugular veins: external and internal....



Adherents of different religions generally disagree as to how to best worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

 God and what is God's plan
Divine providence
In Christian theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God's activity in the world. " Providence" is also used as a title of God exercising His providence, and then the word are usually capitalized...

 for mankind, if there is one. There are different approaches to reconciling the contradictory claims of monotheistic religions. One view is taken by exclusivists, who believe they are the chosen people
Chosen people
Throughout history and even today various groups of people have considered themselves as chosen by a deity for some purpose such as to act as the deity's agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths, like Abrahamic religions, references to God are used in constructs such as "God's Chosen People"...

 or have exclusive access to absolute truth, generally through revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 or encounter with the Divine, which adherents of other religions do not. Another view is religious pluralism
Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

. A pluralist typically believes that his religion is the right one, but does not deny the partial truth of other religions. An example of a pluralist view in Christianity is supersessionism
Supersessionism
Supersessionism is a term for the dominant Christian view of the Old Covenant, also called fulfillment theology and replacement theology, though the latter term is disputed...

, i.e., the belief that one's religion is the fulfillment of previous religions. A third approach is relativistic inclusivism
Inclusivism
Inclusivism, one of several approaches to understanding the relationship between religions, asserts that while one set of beliefs is absolutely true, other sets of beliefs are at least partially true. It stands in contrast to exclusivism, which asserts that only one way is true and all others are...

, where everybody is seen as equally right; an example in Christianity is universalism
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

: the doctrine that salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 is eventually available for everyone. A fourth approach is syncretism, mixing different elements from different religions. An example of syncretism is the New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 movement.

Theological approaches




Theologians and philosophers have ascribed a number of attributes to God, including omniscience
Omniscience
Omniscience omniscient point-of-view in writing) is the capacity to know everything infinitely, or at least everything that can be known about a character including thoughts, feelings, life and the universe, etc. In Latin, omnis means "all" and sciens means "knowing"...

, omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

, omnipresence
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, perfect goodness, divine simplicity
Simplicity
Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. It usually relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it. Something which is easy to understand or explain is simple, in contrast to something complicated...

, and eternal
Eternity
While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

 and necessary
Necessity
In U.S. criminal law, necessity may be either a possible justification or an exculpation for breaking the law. Defendants seeking to rely on this defense argue that they should not be held liable for their actions as a crime because their conduct was necessary to prevent some greater harm and when...

 existence. God has been described as incorporeal
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

, a personal being, the source of all moral obligation
Moral obligation
The term moral obligation has a number of meanings in moral philosophy, in religion, and in layman's terms. Generally speaking, when someone says of an act that it is a "moral obligation," they refer to a belief that the act is one prescribed by their set of values.Moral philosophers differ as to...

, and the greatest conceivable being existent. These attributes were all claimed to varying degrees by the early Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 scholars, including St Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, Al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

, and Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

.

Many medieval philosophers
Medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

 developed arguments for the existence of God, while attempting to comprehend the precise implications of God's attributes. Reconciling some of those attributes generated important philosophical problems and debates. For example, God's omniscience may seem to imply that God knows how free agents will choose to act. If God does know this, their apparent free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 might be illusory, or foreknowledge does not imply predestination; and if God does not know it, God may not be omniscient.

However, if by its essential nature, free will is not predetermined, then the effect of its will can never be perfectly predicted by anyone, regardless of intelligence and knowledge. Although knowledge of the options presented to that will, combined with perfect-infinite intelligence, could be said to provide God with omniscience if omniscience is defined as knowledge or understanding of all that is.

The last centuries of philosophy have seen vigorous questions regarding the arguments for God's existence raised by such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 and Antony Flew
Antony Flew
Antony Garrard Newton Flew was a British philosopher. Belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, he was notable for his works on the philosophy of religion....

, although Kant held that the argument from morality
Argument from morality
The argument from morality is one of many arguments for the existence of God. It comes in different forms, all aiming to support the claim that God exists with observations about morality...

 was valid. The theist response has been either to contend, like Alvin Plantinga
Alvin Plantinga
Alvin Carl Plantinga is an American analytic philosopher and the emeritus John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics, and Christian apologetics...

, that faith is "properly basic
Reformed epistemology
In the philosophy of religion, reformed epistemology is a school of thought regarding the epistemology of belief in God put forward by a group of Protestant Christian philosophers, most notably, Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Michael C. Rea...

"; or to take, like Richard Swinburne
Richard Swinburne
Richard G. Swinburne is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Over the last 50 years Swinburne has been a very influential proponent of philosophical arguments for the existence of God. His philosophical contributions are primarily in philosophy of religion and...

, the evidentialist position. Some theists
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 agree that none of the arguments for God's existence are compelling, but argue that faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 is not a product of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

, but requires risk. There would be no risk, they say, if the arguments for God's existence were as solid as the laws of logic, a position summed up by Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal , was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen...

 as: "The heart has reasons which reason knows not of."

Most major religions hold God not as a metaphor, but a being that influences our day-to-day existences. Many believers allow for the existence of other, less powerful spiritual beings
Ethereal being
Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the...

, and give them names such as angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s, saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s, djinni, demon
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

s, and devas
Deva (New Age)
A deva in the New Age movement refers to any of the spiritual forces or beings behind nature. According to Theosophists Charles Webster Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey, devas represent a separate evolution to that of humanity. The concept of devas as nature-spirits derives from the writings of...

.

Non-theistic views regarding God



Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

 proposed an approach dividing the world of philosophy into what he called "non-overlapping magisteria
Non-overlapping magisteria
Non-overlapping magisteria is the view advocated by Stephen Jay Gould that "science and religion do not glower at each other... [but] interdigitate in patterns of complex fingering, and at every fractal scale of self-similarity." He suggests, with examples, that "NOMA enjoys strong and fully...

" (NOMA). In this view, questions of the supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

, such as those relating to the existence
Existence
In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

 and nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 of God, are non
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

-empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 and are the proper domain of theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. The methods of science should then be used to answer any empirical question about the natural world, and theology should be used to answer questions about ultimate meaning and moral value. In this view, the perceived lack of any empirical footprint from the magisterium of the supernatural onto natural events makes science the sole player in the natural world.

Another view, advanced by Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...

, is that the existence of God is an empirical question, on the grounds that "a universe with a god would be a completely different kind of universe from one without, and it would be a scientific difference." Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 argued that the doctrine of a Creator of the Universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe.

Anthropomorphism


Pascal Boyer
Pascal Boyer
Pascal Boyer is a French anthropologist, and Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis.He is a Guggenheim Fellow.-Work:...

 argues that while there is a wide array of supernatural concepts found around the world, in general, supernatural beings tend to behave much like people. The construction of gods and spirits like persons is one of the best known traits of religion. He cites examples from Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, which is, in his opinion, more like a modern soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 than other religious systems.
Bertrand du Castel and Timothy Jurgensen demonstrate through formalization that Boyer's explanatory model matches physics' epistemology in positing not directly observable entities as intermediaries.
Anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 Stewart Guthrie contends that people project human features onto non-human aspects of the world because it makes those aspects more familiar. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 also suggested that god concepts are projections of one's father.

Likewise, Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

 was one of the earliest to suggest that gods represent an extension of human social life to include supernatural beings. In line with this reasoning, psychologist Matt Rossano contends that when humans began living in larger groups, they may have created gods as a means of enforcing morality. In small groups, morality can be enforced by social forces such as gossip or reputation. However, it is much harder to enforce morality using social forces in much larger groups. Rossano indicates that by including ever-watchful gods and spirits, humans discovered an effective strategy for restraining selfishness and building more cooperative groups.

Distribution of belief in God




As of 2000, approximately 53% of the world's population identifies with one of the three primary Abrahamic religions (33% Christian, 20% Islam, <1% Judaism), 6% with Buddhism, 13% with Hinduism, 6% with traditional Chinese religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

, 7% with various other religions, and less than 15% as non-religious. Most of these religious beliefs involve a god or gods. Abrahamic religions beyond Christianity, Islam and Judaism include Baha'i, Samaritanism, the Rastafari movement
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

, Yazidi
Yazidi
The Yazidi are members of a Kurdish religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots. They are primarily a Kurdish-speaking people living in the Mosul region of northern Iraq, with additional communities in Transcaucasia, Armenia, Turkey, and Syria in decline since the 1990s – their members emigrating to...

sm, and the Unification Church
Unification Church
The Unification Church is a new religious movement founded by Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, the Unification Church was formally and legally established in Seoul, South Korea, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity . In 1994, Moon gave the church...

.)

See also

  • God (male deity)
    God (male deity)
    A god, as a male deity, contrasts with female deities, or "goddesses". While the term 'goddess' specifically refers to a female deity, the plural 'gods' can be applied to all gods collectively, regardless of gender....

  • God in Christianity
    God in Christianity
    In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

  • God in Hinduism
  • God in Islam
    God in Islam
    In Islamic theology, God is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular . God is unique and inherently One , all-merciful and omnipotent. According to the Islamic...

  • God in Judaism
    God in Judaism
    The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

  • God in Sikhism
    God in Sikhism
    The concept of God in Sikhism is uncompromisingly monotheistic, as symbolized by "Ik Onkar" , a central tenet of Sikh philosophy. The fundamental belief of Sikhism is that God exists, indescribable yet knowable and perceivable to anyone who is prepared to dedicate the time and energy to become...

  • God in the Baha'i Faith
  • God the Father in Western art
    God the Father in Western art
    For about a thousand years, in obedience to interpretations of specific Bible passages, pictorial representations of God the Father in Western art had been avoided by Christian painters. At first only the Hand of God, often emerging from a cloud, was portrayed...

  • God the Father
    God the Father
    God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...


External links