Religion, Monotheism, Polytheism, and Nontheism


Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there’s only one God.

God in monotheism is conceived of as the creator of the world and of humanity.

The three main religions that belief in monotheism is Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Judaism and Islam are both well-known examples of monotheism. Many Christians believe in the three-part deity known as the Trinity, but Christian belief generally interprets this as one God, and Christianity is widely considered a monotheistic religion.

Many do believe monotheism evolved from polytheism, there are some polytheistic religions with monotheistic overtones.

Polytheism is the belief in more than one God.


In Islam, shirk is the sin of idolatry or polytheism (the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides Allah). … of mušrik are those who practice shirk, which literally means “association” and refers to accepting other gods and divinities alongside God.

Islam rejects Polytheism 

In the Quran., it clearly states that the only acceptable way of worshipping God is to worship Him alone, any other type of worshipping even with the excuse of worshipping others ‘being the means to God’ – is explicitly rejected.


Judaism developed into a strict ‘monotheism’. The Torah Collators took stories, writings, etc., and selected a set that would support this concept.

Islam derived its concept of deity from this strict monotheism and developed its interpretation of a single deity.

Christianity compromised with the tripartite deity, consisting of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This of course has been a bone of contention between the strict monotheists of Judaism and Islam, vs the Tripart Deity of Christianity.

The Hebrew religion out of which Judaism evolved, was certainly polytheistic, becoming officially monolatrous during the late monarchy and monotheistic around the time of the Babylonian Exile.

There are various polytheistic religions practiced today, for example; Hinduism, Shintoism, Thelema, Wicca, druidism, Taoism, Asatru, and Candomble.

As a religion, Buddhism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic. … Due to this belief system, Buddhism is often regarded as a philosophy rather than a religion.


Characteristics of Monotheism and Polytheism:

Number of Gods:

Monotheism: Only one god is worshiped.

Polytheism: Many gods are worshiped.


Monotheism: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are monotheistic religions. These are also called Abrahamic religions.

Polytheism: Hinduism is an exception and appears to be polytheistic to the westerners because of the existence of many deities though there is an underlying unity among these gods that are believed to be mere manifestations of one Supreme Being.



When you hear the word ‘religion,’ is there a specific one that comes to mind? It’s common to think of religions, like Christianity, whose belief centers around one God. In other lessons, we’ve discussed the concept of religion and even talked about monotheistic religions, like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. However, not all religions are monotheistic or even polytheistic. Some are actually nontheistic.


Nontheism, in this lesson, refers to nontheistic religions, which are religions that do not focus on belief in god(s). Some nontheistic religions could also be called ‘ethical religions’ because they revolve around ethics instead of a god. In this lesson, we discuss three nontheistic or ethical religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.


The majority of Hindus believe in multiple gods and so are polytheistic. However, some Hindus are atheists and do not believe any gods exist. Still, others are monotheistic but typically envision God as a universal moral force rather than a specific entity. So, Hinduism is certainly a nontheistic religion because it doesn’t revolve around any particular deity. The core, instead, is ethics.


Since its creation, Buddhism has evolved into a wide variety of forms. Although many Buddhists are atheists, some believe in one God and others believe in multiple gods. Like Hindus, Buddhist beliefs in the existence of deities and emphasis on religious rituals vary. However, all Buddhists focus on and share ethical and moral beliefs, as well as great respect for the teachings of the Buddha, or ‘The Enlightened One.’

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