Defining Terms: Theism

October 1, 2011

A few more definitions to add to your knowledge of data base in studying apologetics.  We will look at Theism and the rest of his Family that are connected together.  Hopefully the illustration will help you understand it as well.

Theism – The belief that there is a God and that He is knowable and involved in the world.  It comes from the root word ‘theo‘ meaning ‘God’.  For example, theology is the study of God.

theismMonotheism – The belief that there is only one God in the universe.  It comes from the prefix ‘mono’ meaning ‘one’.  Judaism, Islam, Christianity are examples of Monotheistic worldviews.

Polytheism – The belief that there are many gods in existence in the universe.  It comes from the prefix ‘poly’ meaning ‘many’. Hinduism and the Greeks God’s of Mythology are examples of polytheistic worldviews.

Pantheism –  The belief that God is the universe and all that comprises it: laws, motion, matter, energy, consciousness, life, etc.  It denies that God is a person and is self-aware.  The prefix ‘pan‘  means ‘all‘ or ‘of everything‘.   Buddhism is a pantheistic worldview.

Panentheism –  The belief that God is in the universe.  It differs with pantheism which states that God is the universe and all that it comprises.

Atheism – The lack of belief in a god, and/or the belief that there is no god.  The position held by a person or persons that ‘lack belief’ in god(s) and/or deny that god(s) exist.  The prefix ‘a‘ meaning ‘not’ or ‘against’  literally translates ‘not God‘ when put in front of the root word Theo.  For example amoral would mean the opposite of moral.  Naturalistic or a Darwinian evolution worldview would be atheistic.

Agnosticism – The belief that the existence of God is not knowable. The word is derived from the negative ‘a‘ combined with the Greek word ‘gnosis,’ which means knowledge.  Hence, agnosticism is the belief that God cannot be known.  Someone who might call themselves a Skeptic would most likely have an agnostic worldview.

It is important that we understand the role of the law of non-contradiction when discuss the different positions of theism.  For example, you cannot hold both a theistic view and an atheistic position at the same time.  Either God exists or he doesn’t.  Similarly you cannot hold both a monotheistic and a polytheistic position at the same time either.  There is either one God or multiple gods.

There are a few more other words we could discuss, but we will save them for later in another post.  What position do you take, and why?  As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.