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In theology, monotheism (from Greek "only" and "God") 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, and the Platonic concept of God as put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Some forms of Hinduism also use this form of religion.

The concept of monotheism has largely been defined in contrast with polytheistic and pantheistic religions, and monotheism tends to overlap with other Unitary concepts, such as monism.

Whereas monotheism is a self-description of religions subsumed under this term, there is no equivalent self-description for polytheist religions: monotheism asserts itself by opposing polytheism, while polytheism does not use the same argumentative device, as it includes a concept of divine unity despite worshipping a plethora of gods.

Ostensibly 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 Christian churches teach Jesus to be two natures , each possessing the full attributes of that nature, without mixture or intermingling of those attributes. This view is not shared by all Christians, notably the Oriental Orthodox (miaphysite) churches. Although Christian theology reserves worship for the Divine, the distinction between worshipping the divine nature of Jesus but not the human nature of Jesus can be difficult for non-Christians (and even Christian laity) to follow. Christians of the Catholic tradition venerate the Saints, (among them Mary), as human beings who had remarkable qualities, lived their faith in God to the extreme and are believed to continue to assist in the process of salvation for others. The concept of Monotheism in Islam and Judaism however, is far more direct where God's oneness is unquestionable and there is no room for the plurality of God.

Origin and development

The word monotheism is derived from the Greek meaning "single" and meaning "God". The English term was first used by Henry More (1614–1687).

The concept sees a gradual development out of notions of henotheism (worshiping a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities) and monolatrism (the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity). In the Ancient Near East, each city had a local patron deity, such as Shamash at Larsamarker or Sin at Urmarker. The first claims of global supremacy of a specific god date to the Late Bronze Age, with Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten (speculatively connected to Judaism by Sigmund Freud in his Moses and Monotheism). Currents of monism or monotheism emerge in Vedic India in the same period, with e.g. the Nasadiya Sukta. Philosophical monotheism and the associated concept of absolute good and evil emerges in Classical Antiquity, notably with Plato (c.f. Euthyphro dilemma), elaborated into the idea of The One in Neoplatonism, later culminating in the doctrines of Christology in Early Christianity and finally (by the 7th century) in the tawhid in Islam.

In Islamic theology, a person who spontaneously "discovers" monotheism is called a ḥanīf, the original ḥanīf being Abraham.

Austrian anthropologist Wilhelm Schmidt in the 1910s postulated an Urmonotheismus, "original" or "primitive monotheism."

Varieties

Some argue that there are various forms of monotheism, including:
  • Henotheism involves devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods. Similarly, monolatrism is the worship of a single deity independent of the ontological claims regarding that deity.
  • Deism posits the existence of a single god, or the Designer of the designs in Nature. Some Deists believe in an impersonal god that does not intervene in the world while other Deists believe in intervention through Providence.
  • Monistic Theism is the type of monotheism found in Hinduism, encompassing pantheistic and panentheistic monism, and at the same time the concept of a personal god.
  • Pantheism holds that the universe itself is God. The existence of a transcendent supreme extraneous to nature is denied.
  • Panentheism, is a form of monistic monotheism which holds that God is all of existence, containing, but not identical to, the Universe. The 'one God' is omnipotent and all-pervading, the universe is part of God, and God is both immanent and transcendent.
  • Substance monotheism, found in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance.
  • Trinitarian monotheism is the belief in one God with three distinct subsistences; God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.


On the surface, monotheism is in contrast with polytheism, which is the belief in several deities. Polytheism is however reconcilable with Inclusive monotheism, which claims that all deities are just different names or forms of a single god. This approach is common in Hinduism, e.g. in Smartism. Exclusive monotheism, on the other hand, actively opposes polytheism. Monotheism is often contrasted with theistic dualism (ditheism). However, in dualistic theologies as that of Gnosticism, the two deities are not of equal rank, and the role of the Gnostic demiurge is closer to that of Satan in Christian theology than that of a diarch on equal terms with God (who is represented in pantheistic fashion, as Pleroma).

Early history

In ancient Egypt

Ancient Middle-Eastern religions may have worshipped a single God within a pantheon and the abolition of all others, as in the case of the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. Iconoclasm during this pharaoh's rule is considered a chief origin for the subsequent destruction by some groups of idols, holding that no other god is before the preferred deity (dually and subtly acknowledging the existence of the other gods, but only as foes to be destroyed for their drawing of attention away from the primary deity).

Other issues such as Divine Right of Kings may possibly also stem from pharaonic laws on the ruler being the demigod or representative of the Creator on Earth. The massive tombsmarker in the Egyptian pyramidsmarker which aligned with astronomical observations, perhaps exemplify this relationship between the pharaoh and the heavens.

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is considered by many to be the first monotheistic religion.

In Zoroaster's revelation, Ahura Mazda is a transcendental and universal God, the one uncreated creator (standard appellation) and to whom all worship is ultimately directed. However, Zoroaster also perceives Mazda to be completely good, and that his creation is completely good. In conflict with creation is anti-creation, evident in the created world as decay and disorder. There is no "devil" in Zoroastrianism. The "devil" is "Ahriman", which is actually an "evil spirit". It faces "Spenta Minyiu", which is the "good spirit" (but not God). So the "evil spirit" does not confront God. God is the only supreme Being and its aspects are represented by the seven angels and by the good spirit. Against this good spirit, there is an evil spirit, that man cultivates by doing bad things (cheating, lying, killing, etc.) Man can cultivate this spirit because God created the man free, so it's the man's role to choose between good and bad.

In the Gathas, Zoroaster did not acknowledge any divinity other than Ahura Mazda.

Zoroastrianism thus can be considered monotheistic insofar as all worship is ultimately directed to Ahura Mazda. However, unlike Zurvanite Zoroastrianism, neither revealed nor present-day Zoroastrianism is monist. At no time did Zoroastrianism preclude the existence or worship of other divinities, which are today considered to be aspects or evidence of creation and hence of the Creator. The invocation of divinities besides Ahura Mazda is however common practice in Zoroastrian tradition, and is not necessarily either a sign of henotheism (the one extreme interpretation) or the worship of pure abstractions (the other extreme): In the past it was common for an individual, household or clan to adopt a patron divinity and although several attempts have been made to define ancient Zoroastrianism on the evidence of such adoptions - for instance, in inscriptions or in theophoric names - these are inherently unsuitable for that purpose.

Abrahamic religions

The major source of monotheism in the modern Western World is the narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the source of Judaism. Judaism may have received influences from various non-biblical religions present in Egyptmarker and Syriamarker. This can be seen by the Torah's reference to Egyptian culture in Genesis and the story of Moses, as well as the mention of Hittite and Hurrian cultures of Syria in the Genesis story of Abraham. Although, orthodox Jews would dispute this based on the Jewish fundamental that the Torah was received from God on Mount Sinai in 1313 BCE (Hebrew year 2448). References to other cultures are included to understand the specific references of the topic discussed or to give context to the narrative.

In traditional Jewish thought, which provided the basis of the Christian and Islamic religions, monotheism was regarded as its most basic belief. Judaism and Islam have traditionally attempted to interpret scripture as exclusively monotheistic whilst Christianity adopts Trinitarianism, a more complex form of monotheism, as a result of considering the Holy Spirit to be God, and attributing divinity to Jesus, a Judeanmarker Jew, in the first century AD, defining him as the Son of God. Thus, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit".

Monotheism in the Hebrew Bible

In Isaiah 44:6 YHWH (read Adonay) states: "There is no God Beside Me"

Some scholars interpret the Torah to state that God reveals himself as the only existing god, while some modern interpretations maintain that the Torah takes a position not of monotheism, but of monolatrism or henotheism. God reveals himself not as the only god, but rather as the god whom Abraham knows (Gen 15:7). In such a respect, the God of Israel is not God alone, but the God who was worshipped by Abraham's clan. In this context, the God of Israel was at the time a type of tribal deity, that although was worshipped alone, did not explicitly exclude the existence of other gods, who were not relevant to them.

There are interpretations of the biblical text which hold that in the early development of Judaism, the possibility of other gods is left an open question, although by this stage Israel claims that their god is greater (Ex 18:11). Traditional views differ on this point. This same subtle shift is shown in 2 Chr 2:5, and could indicate that Israel understood that the god they recognized was God alone, and other gods were therefore false. This would be Monotheism in the proper sense of the word. By the time of the prophet Isaiah, Monotheism is solidly and explicitly accepted. "Thus says the , the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Is 44:6) Thus, the development of the people of Israel to a true Monotheism, appears to be a gradual process, with the exception of Gen 1:1 - which thus casts substantial doubt on the legitimacy of that hypothesis. It is into this context that Christianity emerges, and thus Christianity was from the outset Monotheistic. (John 1:1)

A strictly literal interpretation of Deuteronomy 4:39 excludes the possibility of henotheism. The verse states: "Know this day, and take it to heart, that the is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is none else." If one were to view that Deuteronomy is a late addition to the Five Books of Moses, this would reflect the later adoption of monotheism. However, if Deuteronomy is taken to be part of the original text, as it generally is among those who use it as scripture, this would indicate that the monotheistic concept existed from the time the Torah was composed.

In the west, the Hebrew Bible has been the primary source describing how and when Monotheism was introduced into the Middle East and the west. As believed by followers of some of the Abrahamic religions, it teaches that when Abraham discovered God (Genesis 12:1-9; 13:14-18; 15 18; and 22), he thus became the world's first monotheist. According to these, until then, in ancient history all cultures believed in a variety of multiple deities as in idolatry, forces and creatures of nature as in animism, or in celestial bodies as in astrology, but did not know the one and only true god.

However, the Hebrew Bible teaches that, at Creation, Adam and Eve knew God (and so did their descendants) but that over the ages, God and his name were forgotten. This is how one of the most important Jewish sages, Maimonides describes the process in his work the Mishneh Torah:

Jewish view

Judaism is the first and oldest known monotheistic faith. The best-known Jewish statements of monotheism occur in the Shema prayer, the Ten Commandments and Maimonides' 13 Principles of faith, Second Principle:

There has historically been disagreement between the Hasidic Jews and the Mitnagdim Jews on various Jewish philosophical issues surrounding certain concepts of monotheism. A similar situation of differing views is seen in modern times among Dor Daim, students of the Rambam, segments of Lithuanian Jewry, and portions of the Modern Orthodox world toward Jewish communities that are more thoroughly influenced by Lurianic Kabbalistic teachings such as Hasidism and large segments of the Sepharadi and Mizrahi communities. This dispute is likely rooted in the differences between what are popularly referred to as the "philosophically inclined" sources and the "kabbalistic sources;" the "philosophic sources" include such Rabbis as Saadia Gaon, Rabenu Bahya ibn Paquda, Abraham ibn Ezra, and Maimonides. The "kabbalistic sources" include Rabbis such as Nahmanides, Bahya ben Asher, Rabbi Yitzhak Saggi Nehor, and Azriel. The Vilna Gaon is usually granted great respect in modern times by those who side with both views; by the more kabbalistic segments of Judaism he is regarded as a great kabbalist; those who take the other side of the issue regard him as a strict advocate of the people of Israelmarker's historical monotheism.

The Shema

Judaism's earliest history, beliefs, laws, and practices are preserved and taught in the Torah (the Hebrew Bible) which provides a clear textual source for the rise and development of what is named Judaism's Ethical Monotheism which means that:

(1) There is one God from whom emanates one morality for all humanity. (2) God's primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another...The God of ethical monotheism is the God first revealed to the world in the Hebrew Bible. Through it, we can establish God's four primary characteristics:
  1. God is supernatural.
  2. God is personal.
  3. God is good.
  4. God is holy.
...in the study of Hebrew history: Israel's monotheism was an ethical monotheism. Dennis Prager


When Moses returned with the Ten Commandments, the second of those stated that "you shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3), right after the first, which affirmed the existence of God. Furthermore, Israelites recite the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O' Israel") which partly says, "Hear, O' Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." Monotheism was and is the central tenet of the Israelite and the Jewish religion.

The Shema
Hebrew שמע ישראל יי אלהנו יי אחד
Common transliteration Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
English Hear, O Israel! The is our God! The is One!


The literal word meanings are roughly as follows:
  • Shema — 'listen' or 'hear.' The word also implies comprehension.
  • Yisrael — 'Israel', in the sense of the people or congregation of Israel
  • Adonai — often translated as 'Lord', it is used in place of the Tetragrammaton
  • Eloheinu — 'our God', a plural noun (said to imply majesty rather than plural number) with a pronominal suffix ('our')
  • Echad — 'one'


In this case, Elohim is used in the plural as a form of respect and not polytheism.

Gen.1:26 And Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Elohim is morphologically plural in form in Hebrew, but generally takes singular agreement when it refers to the God of Israel (so the verb meaning "said" in this verse is vayyomer ויאמר with singular inflection, and not vayyomru ויאמרו with plural inflection), and yet in this case the "our" and "us" seems to create a presumption of plurality, though it may just be God talking to angels and not another god.

Judaism, however, insists that the " is One," as in the Shema, and at least two interpretations exist to explain the Torah's use of the plural form. The first is that the plural form "Elohim" is analogous to the royal plural as used in English. The second is that, in order to set an example for human kings, Elohim consulted with his court (the angels, just created) before making a major decision (creating man).

Christian view

Christians believe in the Trinity, an idea which does not conform to unitarian monotheistic beliefs. Historically, most Christian churches have taught that the nature of God is a mystery, in the original, technical meaning; something that must be revealed by special revelation rather than deduced through general revelation. Among Early Christians there was considerable debate over the nature of Godhead, with some factions arguing for the deity of Jesus and others calling for a unitarian conception of God. These issues of Christology were to form one of the main subjects of contention at the First Council of Nicea.

The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaeamarker in Bithynia (in present-day Turkeymarker), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, was the first ecumenical conference of bishops of the Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent 'general (ecumenical) councils of Bishops' (Synods) to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy— the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom.

The purpose of the council was to resolve disagreements in the Church of Alexandria over the nature of Jesus in relationship to the Father; in particular, whether Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father or merely of similar substance. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arian controversy comes, took the second. The council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250-318 attendees, all but 2 voted against Arius).

Christian orthodox traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical) follow this decision, which was codified in 381 and reached its full development through the work of the Cappadocian Fathers. They consider God to be a triune entity, called the Trinity, comprising the three "Persons" God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the three of this unity are described as being "of the same substance" ( ). The true nature of an infinite God, however, is beyond definition, and "the word 'person' is but an imperfect expression of the idea and is not Biblical. In common parlance it denotes a separate rational and moral individual, possessed of self-consciousness, and conscious of his identity amid all changes. Experience teaches that where you have a person, you also have a distinct individual essence. Every person is a distinct and separate individual, in whom human nature is individualized. But in God there are no three individuals alongside of, and separate from, one another, but only personal self distinctions within the Divine essence, which is not only generically, but also numerically, one."

Some commentaters contend that the trinity originated in the Pagan Celtic tradition, in which many gods and goddesses were tripartite, and that its incorporation into Christianity is a corruption of the original doctrines, similar to the adoption of many Pagan gods and goddesses such as Brigid as Christian Saints. Other critics contend that because of the adoption of a tripartite conception of deity, Christianity is actually a form of Tritheism or Polytheism. This concept dates from the teachings of the Alexandrian Church, which claimed that Jesus, having appeared later in the Bible than his "Father," had to be a secondary, lesser, and therefore "distinct" God. This controversy led to the convention of the Nicean council in 325 CE. For Jews and Muslims, the idea of God as a trinity is heretical - it is considered akin to polytheism. Christians overwhelmingly assert that monotheism is central to the Christian faith, as the very Nicene Creed (among others) which gives the orthodox Christian definition of the Trinity does begin with: "I believe in one God".

Some groups that are self-identified as Christians eschew orthodox theology; such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Oneness Pentecostals, the Unitarians, Christadelphians, Church of God General Conference , Socinian and some of the Radical Reformers (Anabaptists), do not teach the doctrine of the Trinity at all. The Rastafarians, like many Christians, hold that God is both a unity and a trinity, in their case God being Haile Selassie.

Islamic view

The holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique and indivisible being who is independent of the creation. The indivisibility of God implies the indivisibility of God's (called Allah in Arabic) sovereignty which in turn leads to the conception of the universe as just, coherent and moral rather than as an existential and moral chaos(as in polytheism). Similarly the Qur'an rejects the binary modes of thinking such as the idea of a duality of God by arguing that both good and evil generate from God's creative act and that evil forces have no power to create anything. God in Islam is a universal god rather than a local, tribal or parochial one; an absolute who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil.

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession. To attribute divinity to a created entity is the only unpardonable sin mentioned in the Qur'an. Muslims believe that the entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid (Oneness of God).

Islam is a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of the Qur’an, a religious book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: الله‎, Allāh), and the Islamic prophet Muhammad's personally demonstrated examples (collected through narration of his companions in the volumes of Hadith) for implementing them. The word Islam is a homograph, having multiple meanings, and a triliteral of the word salam, which directly translates as peace. Other meanings include submission, or the total surrender of oneself to God (see Islam (term)).[1] An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits (to God)".[2][3] The word Muslim is the participle of the same verb of which Islām is the infinitive. Muslims regard Islam as the complete and universal version of the original monotheistic faith revealed to peoples before, including to Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that previous messages have changed and the revelations were distorted.[4]

Religious practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community.[5] Islamic law (Arabic: '‎شريعة Šarīʿah) touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from dietary laws and banking to warfare and welfare.

Bahá'í view

The Oneness of God is one of the core teachings of the Bahá'í Faith. Bahá'ís believe that there is one supernatural being, God, who has created all existence. God is described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty."

Bahá'ís believe that although people have different concepts of God and his nature, and call him by different names, everyone is speaking of the same entity. God is taught to be a personal god in that God is conscious of his creation and has a mind, will and purpose. At the same time the Bahá'í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully understand him or to create a complete and accurate image of him. Bahá'u'lláh teaches that human knowledge of God is limited to those attributes and qualities which are understandable to us, and thus direct knowledge about the essence of God is not possible. Bahá'ís believe, thus, that through daily prayer, meditation, and study of revealed text they can grow closer to God. The obligatory prayers in the Bahá'í Faith involve explicit monotheistic testimony.

Chinese view



The orthodox faith system held by most dynasties of Chinamarker since at least the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC) until the modern period centered on the worship of Shangdi (literally "Above Sovereign", generally translated as "God") or Heaven as an omnipotent force. This faith system pre-dated the development of Confucianism and Taoism and the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity. It has features of monotheism in that Heaven is seen as an omnipotent entity, endowed with personality but no corporeal form. From the writings of Confucius in the Analects, we find that Confucius himself believed that Heaven cannot be deceived, Heaven guides people's lives and maintains a personal relationship with them, and that Heaven gives tasks for people to fulfill in order to teach them of virtues and morality. However, this faith system was not truly monotheistic since other lesser gods and spirits, which varied with locality, were also worshiped along with Shangdi. Still, variants such as Mohism approached high monotheism, teaching that the function of lesser gods and ancestral spirits is merely to carry out the will of Shangdi, akin to angels in Western civilization. In Mozi's Will of Heaven (天志), he writes:

Worship of Shangdi and Heaven in ancient China includes the erection of shrines, the last and greatest being the Temple of Heavenmarker in Beijing, and the offering of prayers. The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Shangdi, usually by slaughtering a completely healthy bull as sacrifice. Although its popularity gradually diminished after the advent of Taoism and Buddhism, among other religions, its concepts remained in use throughout the pre-modern period and have been incorporated in later religions in China, including terminology used by early Christians in China.

Indian religions

Hinduism

In Hinduism, views are broad and range from monism, pantheism to panentheism – alternatively called monistic theism by some scholars – to monotheism (also see Hindu denominations).

Vaishnavism is one of the earliest implicit manifestations of monotheism in the traditions of Vedas. Svayam Bhagavan is a Sanskrit term for the original deity of the Supreme God worshiped across many traditions of the Vaishnavism, the monotheistic absolute deity. This term is often applied to Krishna in some branches of Vaishnavism. Traditions of Gaudiya Vaishnavas, the Nimbarka Sampradaya and followers of Swaminarayan and Vallabha considers him to be the source of all avataras, and the source of Vishnu himself, or to be the same as Narayana. As such, he is therefore regarded as Svayam Bhagavan.

When Krishna is recognized to be Svayam Bhagavan, it can be understood that this is the belief of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the Vallabha Sampradaya, and the Nimbarka Sampradaya, where Krishna is accepted to be the source of all other avatars, and the source of Vishnu himself. This belief is drawn primarily "from the famous statement of the Bhagavatam"(1.3.28). A different viewpoint differing from this theological concept is the concept of Krishna as an avatara of Narayana or Vishnu. It should be however noted that although it is usual to speak of Vishnu as the source of the avataras, this is only one of the names of the God of Vaishnavism, who is also known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna and behind each of those names there is a divine figure with attributed supremacy in Vaishnavism.

The Rig Veda, the very first book, discusses monotheistic thought. So does Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda.

"The One Truth, sages know by many names" (Rig Veda 1.164.46)

"When at first the unborn sprung into being, He won His own dominion beyond which nothing higher has been in existence" (Atharva Veda 10.7.31)

"There is none to compare with Him. There is no parallel to Him, whose glory, verily, is great." (Yajur Veda 32.3)

The number of auspicious qualities of God are countless, with the following six qualities being the most important:
  • Jñāna (Omniscience), defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously
  • Aishvarya (Sovereignty, derived from the word Ishvara), which consists in unchallenged rule over all
  • Shakti (Energy), or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible
  • Bala (Strength), which is the capacity to support everything by will and without any fatigue
  • Vīrya (Vigor), which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the supreme being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations
  • Tejas (Splendor), which expresses His self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by His spiritual effulgence


The Nyaya school of Hinduism has made several arguments regarding a monotheistic view. The Naiyanikas have given an argument that such a god can only be one. In the Nyaya Kusumanjali, this is discussed against the proposition of the Mimamsa school that let us assume there were many demigods (deva) and sages (rishis) in the beginning, who wrote the Vedas and created the world. Nyaya says that:
[If they assume such] omniscient beings, those endowed with the various superhuman faculties of assuming infinitesimal size, and so on, and capable of creating everything, then we reply that the law of parsimony bids us assume only one such, namely Him, the adorable Lord.
There can be no confidence in a non-eternal and non-omniscient being, and hence it follows that according to the system which rejects God, the tradition of the Veda is simultaneously overthrown; there is no other way open.
In other words, Nyaya says that the polytheist would have to give elaborate proofs for the existence and origin of his several celestial spirits, none of which would be logical, and that it is more logical to assume one eternal, omniscient god.

Sikhism

Sikhism is a strict monotheistic faith (with some panentheistic features) that arose in northern Indiamarker during the 16th and 17th centuries. Sikhs believe in one, timeless, omnipresent, supreme creator. The opening verse of the Guru Granth Sahib, known as the Mool Mantra signifies this:

Transliteration: Ik ōaṅkār(or ikoo) sat nām karatā purakh nirabha'u niravair akāl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṁ gur prasād.
By Guru's Grace ~


The word "ੴ" is pronounced "Ik ōaṅkār" and is comprised to two parts. The first part is simply: "੧" - This is simply the digit "1" in Gurmukhi signifying the singularity of the creator. Together the word means: "There is only one creator god"

It is often said that the 1430 pages of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib are all expansions on the Mool Mantra. Although the Sikhs have many names for God, they all refer to the same supreme being.

The Sikh holy scriptures refer to the One God who pervades the whole of space and is the creator of all beings in the universe. The following quotation from the Guru Granth Sahib highlights this point:

Sikhs believe that God has many names, but they call God VāhiGurū. The word Guru means teacher in Sanskrit. Sikhs believe that members of other religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Christianity all worship the same god, and the names Allah, Hari, Raam, Paarbrahm and Krsna are frequently mentioned in the Sikh holy scriptures. The Sikh god is known as the Akal Purakh (which means "the true immortal") or Waheguru, the primal being.

Notes

  1. “Monotheism”, in Britannica, 15th ed. (1986), 8:266.
  2. Assman, Jan, Monotheism and Polytheism, in Johnston, Sarah Iles, Ancient Religions, pp. 17, The Belknap Press of Harvard University (2007), ISBN 978-0-674-02548-6
  3. The Orthodox Church. Ware, Timothy. Penguin Books, 1997. ISBN 0-14-014656-3
  4. Monos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  5. Theos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  6. The compound is current only in Modern Greek. There is a single attestation of in a Byzantine hymn (Canones Junii 20.6.43; A. Acconcia Longo and G. Schirò, Analecta hymnica graeca, vol. 11 e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris. Rome: Istituto di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici. Università di Roma, 1978)
  7. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/zoroastrianism-the-foundation-of-monotheism.html
  8. http://www.religioustolerance.org/zoroastr.htm
  9. http://www.zoroastrianism.cc/discussions_register.html
  10. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah%2044:6-8;&version=49;
  11. R.G.Vincent, "Monotheism (in the Bible)" in New Catholic Encyclopedia, (1967), 9:1066.
  12. http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=1&CHAPTER=12
  13. http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=1&CHAPTER=13
  14. http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=1&CHAPTER=15
  15. http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=1&CHAPTER=18
  16. http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=1&CHAPTER=22
  17. Ecumenical, from Koine Greek oikoumenikos, literally meaning worldwide but generally assumed to be limited to the Roman Empire as in Augustus' claim to be ruler of the oikoumene/world; the earliest extant uses of the term for a council are Eusebius' Life of Constantine 3.6[1] around 338 " " (he convoked an Ecumenical council), Athanasius' Ad Afros Epistola Synodica in 369[2], and the Letter in 382 to Pope Damasus I and the Latin bishops from the First Council of Constantinople[3]
  18. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 87
  19. Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  20. Asma Barlas, Believing Women in Islam, p.96
  21. D. Gimaret, Tawhid, Encyclopedia of Islam
  22. Ramadan (2005), p.230
  23. Homer H. Dubs, "Theism and Naturalism in Ancient Chinese Philosophy," Philosophy of East and West, Vol. 9, No. 3/4, 1959
  24. Bhagawan Swaminarayan bicentenary commemoration volume, 1781-1981. p. 154: ...Shri Vallabhacharya [and] Shri Swaminarayan... Both of them designate the highest reality as Krishna, who is both the highest avatara and also the source of other avataras. To quote R. Kaladhar Bhatt in this context. "In this transcendental devotieon (Nirguna Bhakti), the sole Deity and only" is Krishna. New Dimensions in Vedanta Philosophy - Page 154, Sahajānanda, Vedanta. 1981
  25. page 132
  26. "Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala, and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."
  27. Essential Hinduism S. Rosen, 2006, Greenwood Publishing Group p.124 ISBN 0275990060
  28. Rig Veda: A Metrically Restored Text with an Introduction and Notes, HOS, 1994
  29. Atharva Veda: Spiritual & Philosophical Hymns
  30. Shukla Yajur Veda: The transcendental "That"


Further reading

  • Dever, William G.; (2003). Who Were the Early Israelites?, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Silberman, Neil A.; and colleagues, Simon and Schuster; (2001) The Bible Unearthed New York.
  • Whitelam, Keith; (1997). The Invention of Ancient Israel, Routledge, New York.
  • Hans Köchler, The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity. Vienna: Braumüller, 1982. ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 ( Google Print)


See also



External links




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