A Comparison Of World Religions:
Definitions

And ye shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)



Atheism: Atheism is the belief that there is no god or gods, or the complete antithesis of theism. Many atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere. There are some religions, such as Jainism and Buddhism, that do not require belief in a personal god, and so are both compatible and comfortable with atheism.

Deism: Deism is the belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe, and that truth can be arrived at by the application of logic, reason and observation of the natural world. Deists generally reject the notion of supernatural revelation as a basis of truth or religious dogma. Deists typically reject most supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and tend to assert that God (or "The Supreme Architect") has a plan for the universe which he does not alter by intervening in the affairs of human life. What organized religions see as divine revelation and holy books, most deists see as interpretations made by other humans, rather than as authoritative sources. Deism originated in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment, mostly among those raised as Christians who found they could not believe in either a triune God, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, or the inerrancy of scriptures, but who did believe in one god.

Henotheism: Henotheism is a term meaning worshiping a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities. Henotheism is critical of Western theological and religious exceptionalism that holds "monotheism" to be inherently superior to differing conceptions of God.

Humanism: Humanism is a philosophy affirming the dignity and worth of all people, regardless their actions. It is a component of many philosophical systems and has been incorporated into several religions. Humanism can be considered as a process by which truth and morality is determined by an individual's own feelings, perceptions, beliefs and preferences. Humanism rejects dependence on belief without reason, dependence upon the supernatural, and reliance upon texts of allegedly divine origin as a standard for human behavior. Humanists reject any morality based on divine commandment or intruction, and endorse universal morality based on popular opinion.

Humanism maintains that it is up to humans to determine truth for themselves through human logic, reason, and observable evidence, as opposed to seeking it through Divine Revelation, mysticism, tradition, or allegedly divinely originated texts. Humanism requires that humans avoid blindly followinging unsupported belief systems. Instead, it supports scientific skepticism and the scientific method, rejecting authoritarianism and extreme skepticism, and rendering faith an unacceptable basis for action. Likewise, humanism asserts that there is no "absolute right" or "absolute wrong"; it teaches that knowledge of right and wrong is based on the best understanding of one's individual and joint interests.

Monotheism: In theology, monotheism is the belief that only one god exists. The concept of monotheism tends to be dominated by the concept of God in the Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. monotheistic religions may still include concepts of a plurality of the divine, for example the Trinity, in which God is one being in three personal dimensions (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Additionally, most Christians believe Jesus to have two natures (divine and human), each possessing the full attributes of that nature.

Naturalism: Religious Naturalism is a philosophy that proposes a spiritual/intellectual approach to life devoid of supernatural assumptions. It is religious in that it advocates a subjective interpretation of, and behavior towards life and the world. Those things considered most important are deemed sacred and respected. It is naturalistic in that it relies on objective science, evidential truth and reason, rather than supernatural explanations. This allows some proponents to preserve a naturalistic god concept.

Religious Naturalism, like most religions, is concerned about the meaning of life, but it is equally interested in living life in the here and now in a rational, happy way. The meaning of life constitutes a religious/philosophical question about purpose and the significance of human existence. It is also concerned about the concepts of existence, consciousness and happiness. Basic to this alternative, human-centric philosophy is the question "What is the meaning of my life and does it have a purpose?" Religious Naturalism attempts to combine scientific examination of reality with subjective sensory experiences of spirituality and aesthetics, or objectivity with human feelings.

Pandeism: Pandeism incorporates elements of pantheism (that God is identical to the Universe) and deism (that the creator-god who designed the Universe no longer exists in a status where he can be reached, and can instead be confirmed only by reason). It is therefore most particularly the belief that God precedes the Universe and is the Universe's creator, and that the Universe is currently the entirety of God", with some adding that "the Universe will one day coalesce back into a single being, God".

Panentheism: Panentheism is a belief system that God exists and is part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe. In panentheism, God is not exactly viewed as the creator, but as the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest, or visible part of God. Panentheism holds that God is the "supreme affect and effect" of the universe.

Pantheism: Pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing abstract God; or that the Universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence, and the Universe (the sum total of all that is, was, and shall be) is represented in the theological principle of an abstract 'god' rather than a personal, creative deity or deities of any kind. This is the key feature which distinguishes them from panentheists and pandeists. As such, although many religions may claim to hold pantheistic elements, they are more commonly panentheistic or pandeistic in nature.

Polytheism: Polytheism is the belief in or worship of multiple deities, such as gods and goddesses. These are usually assembled into a pantheon, along with their own mythologies and rituals. Many religions, both historical and contemporary, have a belief in polytheism, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Neopagan faiths, and Wicca. Most polytheists do not usually worship all the gods equally, but are monolatrists, specialising in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.

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