Theism (e.g. Christianity; Islam; Judaism): An infinite Personal God Exists Both Beyond and in the Universe. The belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
Polytheism: There are Many God Beyond the World and in It. (It can fit at times under theism or pantheism, and should be considered a sub-set of these two larger worldviews.) It comes from the two Greek words “poly” for many, and from “theism” for god. Obviously, this is the view that says there are many finite limited gods controlling and influencing reality together. Modern day examples of polytheism include Mormonism, Hinduism, the New Age movement, and the surviving remnants of the ancient cults of worshipping the many Roman, Greek, and Norse gods.
Finite-Godism: A Finite God Exists Beyond and in the Universe (Is a sub-set of theism). This is a rare view and we may not be very familiar with the worldview of finite godism. As the name suggests, this view of reality believes that God exists, is beyond the world, but is limited in power and imperfection. a god who is limited in his goodness is a god who is incapable of putting an end to evil in the world. If such a god cannot put an end to evil, such a god either: 1. Doesn’t exist. 2. Is a finite being. This view happens to be very similar in some ways to the worldview of polytheism, however, finite godism believes that there is only one single god in the universe.
Naturalism (e.g. Atheism, Hard-Agnosticism, Existentialism): No God Exists Beyond or in the Universe. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Simply, the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
Pantheism (e.g. Hinduism; Taoism; Buddhism; much New Age Consciousness): God is the Universe (the All). Pantheism is the belief that the Universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god.
The word “pantheism” comes from two greek words, “pan” and “theos”, meaning “all” and “God”. So, in a nutshell, we see that pantheism is the worldview that believes that “all is God, and God is All.” Pantheism includes the world religions of Hinduism, some forms of Buddhism, and the New Age Movement as well.
Pantheism is also the popular religion of “Star Wars” and “Master Yoda”, it forms the central beliefs of “Neo and Morpheus” in the box-office hit trilogy “Matrix”, and has also been made populer in the animated TV series “Avatar” for teens, where “Aang” is seeking spiritual enlightenment in his quest to save the world.
Panentheism: God is in the Universe (e.g., as a mind is in a body). Panetheism is halfway between theism and pantheism. If we picture Atheism as an empty physical universe without any god, and Pantheism as a universe that is itself God, then Panentheism is a universe in which God would be inside of it all. The actual word “panentheism” is made up of three Greek words that mean “all”, “in”, and “god” respectively.
Panentheism is the view that God is in all, and that God is developing and changing along with the world. It is also called “process theology”, or “bipolar theism”, “organicism” since it views the universe as a gigantic organism, or even “neoclassical theism” since its idea of God is very different than the classical Christian concept. Typically, the average person that believes in the “God” of panentheism would probably call him “mother nature”, possibly “the cosmos”, or maybe even the “world spirit.”
- Panentheism: God is in the tree, the rock, and the river.
- Pantheism: the tree, the rock, and the river are in God.
Deism: God is Beyond the Universe, But Not in It. The “hands off God.” The term comes from the Latin deus, meaning “god.” This concept compares God to a clockmaker who creates a clock, starts it running, but has nothing to do with it after that. Deists drew this conclusion from watching natural disasters or human tragedies in which God did not intervene.