AskDefine | Define theist

Dictionary Definition

theist adj : of or relating to theism [syn: theistical, theistic] n : one who believes in the existence of a god or gods

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One who believes in the existence of a God; especially, one who believes in a personal God.
  2. One who discriminates based on religion.




Extensive Definition

Theism is the belief in the existence of one or more divinities or deities. There is also a narrower sense in which theism refers to the belief that one or more divinities are immanent in the world, yet transcend it, along with the idea that divinity(s) is/are omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Theism contrasts with nontheism, the state of not believing in deities.
The term is attested in English from 1678, and was probably coined to contrast with atheism, a term that is attested from ca. 1587 (see the etymology section of atheism for details).

Divisions by numbers of deities


Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity.
  • Inclusive monotheism: The belief that there is only one deity, and that all other claimed deities are just different names for it. The Hindu denomination of Smartism is an example of inclusive monotheism.
  • Exclusive monotheism: The belief that there is only one deity, and that all other claimed deities are distinct from it and false — either invented, demonic, or simply incorrect. Most Abrahamic religions, and the Hindu denomination of Vaishnavism (which regards the worship of anyone other than Vishnu as incorrect) are examples of exclusive monotheism.


Polytheism is the belief that there is more than one deity. In practice, polytheism is not just the belief that there are multiple gods; it usually includes belief in the existence of a specific pantheon of distinct deities.
Within polytheism there are hard and soft varieties:
Polytheism is also divided according to how the individual deities are regarded:
  • Henotheism: The belief that there may be more than one deity, but one is supreme.
  • Monolatry: The belief that there may be more than one deity, but only one should be worshiped.
  • Kathenotheism: The belief that there is more than one deity, but only one deity at a time should be worshiped. Each is supreme in turn.

Divisions by natures of deities

  • Misotheism: the belief that some god or gods are evil.
  • Pantheism: The belief that the physical universe is equivalent to God, and that there is no 'division'.
  • Panentheism: Like Pantheism, the belief that the physical universe is joined to God. However, it also believes that God is greater than the universe.
  • Cosmotheism: The belief that man is The Creator. Man and the cosmos are one, thus the will of man is the will of the cosmos and the will of the cosmos is the will of man.
  • Deism is the belief that a god or gods exists, but does not interact with the known universe.. It typically rejects supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and divine revelation prominent in organized religion, along with holy books and revealed religions that assert the existence of such things. Instead, Deism holds that religious beliefs must be founded on human reason and observed features of the natural world, and that these sources reveal the existence of a supreme being as creator.
    • Pandeism: The belief that God preceded the universe and created it, but is now equivalent with it.
    • Polydeism: The belief that multiple gods existed, but do not intervene with the universe.


See also

theist in Catalan: Teisme
theist in Danish: Teisme
theist in German: Theismus
theist in Estonian: Teism
theist in Modern Greek (1453-): Θεϊσμός
theist in Spanish: Teísmo
theist in French: Théisme
theist in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Theismo
theist in Italian: Teismo
theist in Latvian: Teisms
theist in Luxembourgish: Theismus
theist in Lithuanian: Teizmas
theist in Dutch: Theïsme
theist in Norwegian: Teisme
theist in Uzbek: Teizm
theist in Polish: Teizm
theist in Portuguese: Teísmo
theist in Russian: Теизм
theist in Simple English: Theism
theist in Slovak: Teizmus
theist in Finnish: Teismi
theist in Swedish: Teism
theist in Turkish: Teizm
theist in Ukrainian: Теїзм
theist in Yiddish: טאאיזם
theist in Chinese: 有神论

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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