Monotheism is the belief that there is only one god. Typically, this god is
understood as an all powerful, all knowing and ever present being who created the
world. This eternal high god is usually credited with giving the human world its
moral code. Thus, monotheism is expressed in the religious systems of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam. In evolutionary terms, monotheism is usually understood as
being a more developed form of religious expression then polytheism. Monotheism is
often regarded as having developed from polytheism. However, this theory is often
Examples of monotheistic thought throughout history
While monotheism is usually associated with the religious systems of Christianity,
Judaism and Islam, it should be noted that monotheistic thought existed prior to the
existence of these three major monotheistic religions. Thinkers in Greek antiquity
such as Plato, Xenophanes and Aristotle often spoke of a united, singular divine
reality. But the precise nature of this unitary reality was often a topic of contention.
Xenophanes spoke of the "All-One", Aristotle spoke of an eternal God and Plato
stressed the idea that God was all-good. But the idea of monotheism existed in ancient
Egypt even earlier than classical antiquity. In ancient Egypt, during the reign of
Amunhotep, Amun was installed as the one true god, and the only god that was
allowed to be worshipped. The presence of an exclusive worship of a single deity can
also be found in Zoroastrianism and in some strands of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Whilst monotheism affirms the belief in a universal, all encompassing god, there are
varying interpretations with regards to exactly what this means. Deism is a form of
monotheism that affirms the belief in the oneness of god but rejects the notion that
god is an active agent in human history. In the sense that god is understood as not
playing an active part in human history. Deists also believe that since god does not
intervene in human history, the revelation of god through human history is not
Pantheism is a philosophy that provides another interpretation of monotheism. It may
be useful to understand pantheism, in terms of how it differs from deism. Firstly,
unlike deism, pantheism acknowledges the intervention of god in human history. In
fact, pantheism puts forward the notion that every part of creation is intrinsically a
result of god's activities on earth. The implication of such a belief is that god is seen
not as separate and independent from nature but is seen as part of nature and thus not
able to be understood apart from nature.