Theism is the religious belief that at least one god exists. Polytheism is the belief in several gods, while monotheism is the belief in just one god. For example, a theistic religion is Christianity. The opposite to a theist is an atheist. An atheist is a person that lacks a belief in a god or gods (this is an important distinction from not believing in a god or gods, as former is simply a response to a theistic claim whilst the latter would require the disproving of a negative).
All of these are rough definitions of the theisms; they are almost always different. We can split them all into different groups:
- atheism — the opposite of theism; not believing in any gods or deities
- deism — believing that god(s) exist, but that they do not take part in our lives.
- agnosticism — believing we cannot know whether god(s) exist
- gnosticism — believing that we can know for certain whether a god(s) exist.
Gnosticism and agnosticism can be combined with other forms of theism. For example, it is possible to be an agnostic atheist, or a gnostic theist. In common usage, some people group atheism and agnosticism together under the group of nontheism — absence of clear belief in any deity.
The main types of theism are:
- polytheism — believing that many gods or goddesses exist (sometimes known as paganism)
- monotheism — belief that only one god exists (Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in monotheism.)
- ditheism — belief that two gods exist and they are both equal.
This is another way to group different theisms, based on the nature of the gods.
- pantheism — god and the universe are the same
- panentheism — the universe is part of god
- dystheism or maltheism — that god or the gods are evil.
There are also these types:
- Animism: believing that everything is alive and spirits are in all things, and that all things have souls.
- Monolatry: there is (or may be) more than one god, but they are all expressions of the supreme god.
- Henotheism: there is (or may be) more than one god, but only one is the supreme.
- Kathenotheism: there is more than one god, but only one at a time should be worshipped. Each is supreme in turn.