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{{redirect|Gods|the monotheistic concept of a supreme creator being|God|the word|God (word)|other uses|Gods (disambiguation)}}{{Use dmy dates|date=May 2019}}{{multiple image
total_width=240alt1=Krishna height1=2620alt2=Skanda height2=1600 alt3= Beaker alt4=Orisha alt5=Itzamna e Ixchelheight5=260 alt6=Jesus Christ height6= alt7=Janus height7=260 alt8=Kami height8=260 Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba religion>Yoruba, Christianity, Shinto, Religion in ancient Rome, Maya religion>Maya, Inca.}}A deity ({{IPAc-en|audio=en-uk-deity1.ogg|ˈ|d|iː|ɪ|t|i}}, {{IPAc-en|audio=en-uk-deity2.ogg|ˈ|d|eɪ|-}})BOOK, Dictionaries, Editors of the American Heritage, The American Heritage Book of English Usage: A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English, {{google books, y, BEHFyMCdwssC, 219, |year= 1996|publisher=Houghton Mifflin Harcourt |isbn=978-0-547-56321-3 |page=219 }} or god is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred.BOOK, O'Brien, Jodi, Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, 2009, Sage, Los Angeles, 978-1-4129-0916-7, 191, {{google books, y, _nyHS4WyUKEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity as "a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything revered as divine.BOOK, Stevenson, Angus, Oxford Dictionary of English, 2010, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-957112-3, 461, 3rd, {{google books, y, anecAQAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language=en }} C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life".BOOK, Littleton, C. Scott, Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, 2005, Marshall Cavendish, New York, 978-0-7614-7559-0, 378, {{google books, y, 3ufSStXPECkC, 378, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language=en }} In the English language, a male deity is referred to as a god, while a female deity is referred to as a goddess.Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God),BOOK, Becking, Bob, Dijkstra, Meindert, Korpel, Marjo, Vriezen, Karel, Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah, 2001, New York, London, 978-0-567-23212-0, 189, {{google books, y, eMneBAAAQBAJ, 189, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en|quote=The Christian tradition is, in imitation of Judaism, a monotheistic religion. This implies that believers accept the existence of only one God. Other deities either do not exist, are seen as the product of human imagination or are dismissed as remanents of a persistent paganism}}BOOK, Korte, Anne-Marie, Haardt, Maaike De, The Boundaries of Monotheism: Interdisciplinary Explorations Into the Foundations of Western Monotheism, 2009, Brill, 978-90-04-17316-3, 9, {{google books, y, -53d1iRsqDEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} polytheistic religions accept multiple deities.BOOK, Brown, Jeannine K., Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, 2007, Baker Academic, 978-0-8010-2788-8, 72, {{google books, y, 5QJjyGoxEzkC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as aspects of the same divine principle;BOOK, Taliaferro, Charles, Harrison, Victoria S., Goetz, Stewart, The Routledge Companion to Theism, 2012, Routledge, 978-1-136-33823-6, 78–79, {{google books, y, ct7fCgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Reat, N. Ross, Perry, Edmund F., A World Theology: The Central Spiritual Reality of Humankind, 1991, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-33159-3, 73–75, {{google books, y, vD2TJNc7NE4C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} and nontheistic religions deny any supreme eternal creator deity but accept a pantheon of deities which live, die and may be reborn like any other being.{{rp|35–37}}{{rp|357–58}}Although most monotheistic religions traditionally envision their God as omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and eternal,BOOK, Taliaferro, Charles, Marty, Elsa J., A Dictionary of Philosophy of Religion, {{google books, y, 78962vlrCDcC, 98, |date=2010|publisher=A&C Black|isbn=978-1-4411-1197-5|pages=98–99}}BOOK, Wilkerson, W.D., Walking With The Gods, {{google books, y, GXCwBgAAQBAJ, 6, |date=2014||isbn=978-0-9915300-1-4|pages=6–7}}BOOK, Trigger, Bruce G., Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study, {{google books, y, ZEX-yZOAG9IC, 473, |date=2003|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=978-0-521-82245-9|pages=473–74|edition=1st}} none of these qualities are essential to the definition of a "deity"BOOK, Hood, Robert Earl, Must God Remain Greek?: Afro Cultures and God-talk, {{google books, y, -ceFU75KyYQC, 128, |publisher=Fortress Press|isbn=978-1-4514-1726-5|pages=128–29|quote=African people may describe their deities as strong, but not omnipotent; wise but not omniscient; old but not eternal; great but not omnipresent (...)}}BOOK, Trigger, Bruce G., Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study,weblink registration, 2003, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-521-82245-9, 441–42, 1st, [Historically...] people perceived far fewer differences between themselves and the gods than the adherents of modern monotheistic religions. Deities were not thought to be omniscient or omnipotent and were rarely believed to be changeless or eternal, BOOK, Murdoch, John, English Translations of Select Tracts, Published in India: With an Introd. Containing Lists of the Tracts in Each Language, {{Google books, y, IHQAAAAAMAAJ, 141, |year=1861|publisher=Graves |pages = 141–42 |quote = We [monotheists] find by reason and revelation that God is omniscient, omnipotent, most holy, etc, but the Hindu deities possess none of those attributes. It is mentioned in their Shastras that their deities were all vanquished by the Asurs, while they fought in the heavens, and for fear of whom they left their abodes. This plainly shows that they are not omnipotent.}} and various cultures conceptualized their deities differently. Monotheistic religions typically refer to God in masculine terms,BOOK, Kramarae, Cheris, Spender, Dale, Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women: Global Women's Issues and Knowledge, 2004, Routledge, 978-1-135-96315-6, 655, {{google books, y, QAOUAgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language = en }}{{rp|96}} while other religions refer to their deities in a variety of ways – masculine, feminine, androgynous and without gender.BOOK, Bonnefoy, Yves, Roman and European Mythologies, 1992, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 978-0-226-06455-0, {{google books, y, Uf2_kHAs22sC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en|pages=274–75}}BOOK, Pintchman, Tracy, Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess, 2014, SUNY Press, 978-0-7914-9049-5, {{google books, y, JfXdGInecRIC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en |pages=1–2, 19–20}}BOOK, Roberts, Nathaniel, To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum, 2016, University of California Press, 978-0-520-96363-4, {{google books, y, UVPQCwAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en|page=xv}}Historically, many ancient cultures – including the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Norsemen– personified natural phenomena, variously as either deliberate causes or effects.BOOK, Malandra, William W., An Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion: Readings from the Avesta and the Achaemenid Inscriptions, 1983, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, 978-0-8166-1115-7, 9–10, {{google books, y, nZQMrjukmboC, 9, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Fløistad, Guttorm, Volume 10: Philosophy of Religion, 2010, Springer Science & Business Media B.V., Dordrecht, 978-90-481-3527-1, 19–20, 1st, {{google books, y, BclABayC1QQC, 19, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Potts, Daniel T., Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations, 1997, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-3339-9, 272–74, st, {{google books, y, OdZS9gBu4KwC, 272, |accessdate=22 January 2018 }} Some Avestan and Vedic deities were viewed as ethical concepts. In Indian religions, deities were envisioned as manifesting within the temple of every living being's body, as sensory organs and mind.BOOK, Potter, Karl H., The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 3: Advaita Vedanta up to Samkara and His Pupils, 2014, Princeton University Press, 978-1-4008-5651-0, 272–74, {{Google books, y, Ydf_AwAAQBAJ, 272, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language=en }}BOOK, Olivelle, Patrick, The Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation., 2006, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-536137-7, 47, {{Google books, y, fB8uneM7q1cC, 47, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language=en }}BOOK, Cush, Denise, Robinson, Catherine, York, Michael, Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2008, Routledge, London, 978-1-135-18979-2, 899–900, {{Google books, y, kzPgCgAAQBAJ, 899, |accessdate=28 June 2017 |language=en }} Deities were envisioned as a form of existence (Saṃsāra) after rebirth, for human beings who gain merit through an ethical life, where they become guardian deities and live blissfully in heaven, but are also subject to death when their merit is lost.{{rp|35–38}}{{rp|356–59}}{{toclimit|3}}


File:Kobayashi Izanami and Izanagi.jpg|thumb|upright=0.6|Kobayashi Eitaku painting showing the god Izanagi (right) and Izanami, a goddess of creation and death in Japanese mythologyJapanese mythologyThe English language word "deity" derives from Old French deité,BOOK, Hoad, T. F., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, 2008, Paw Prints, 978-1-4395-0571-7, {{google books, y, CDaPuAAACAAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}{{Page needed|date=June 2017}} the Latin deitatem or "divine nature", coined by Augustine of Hippo from deus ("god"). Deus is related through a common Proto-Indo-European (PIE) origin to *deiwos.WEB,weblink Online Etymology Dictionary – Deity,, 6 June 2017, This root yields the ancient Indian word Deva meaning "to gleam, a shining one", from *div- "to shine", as well as Greek dios "divine" and Zeus; and Latin deus "god" (Old Latin deivos).WEB,weblink Online Etymology Dictionary – Deva,, 6 June 2017, WEB,weblink Online Etymology Dictionary – Zeus,, 6 June 2017, {{rp|230–31}} Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi.{{rp|496}} Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Latin dea and Greek thea.BOOK, Hawley, John Stratton, Wulff, Donna M., Devī: Goddesses of India, {{google books, y, CZrV3kOpMt0C, 2, |year=1998|publisher=Motilal Banarsidass|isbn=978-81-208-1491-2|pages=2, 18–21|edition=1st}} In Old Persian, daiva- means "demon, evil god", while in Sanskrit it means the opposite, referring to the "heavenly, divine, terrestrial things of high excellence, exalted, shining ones".{{rp|496}}BOOK, Klostermaier, Klaus K., Survey of Hinduism, A: Third Edition, {{google books, y, 8CVviRghVtIC, 101, |date=2010|publisher=SUNY Press|isbn=978-0-7914-8011-3|pages=101–02|edition=3rd}}BOOK, Mallory, J.P., Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world, 2006, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-928791-8, 418–23, Reprint, {{google books, y, iNUSDAAAQBAJ, 418, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}The closely linked term "god" refers to "supreme being, deity", according to Douglas Harper,WEB,weblink Online Etymology Dictionary – God, 6 June 2017, and is derived from Proto-Germanic *guthan, from PIE *ghut-, which means "that which is invoked".{{rp|230–31}} Guth in the Irish language means "voice". The term *ghut- is also the source of Old Church Slavonic zovo ("to call"), Sanskrit huta- ("invoked", an epithet of Indra), from the root *gheu(e)- ("to call, invoke."),An alternate etymology for the term "god" comes from the Proto-Germanic Gaut, which traces it to the PIE root *ghu-to- ("poured"), derived from the root *gheu- ("to pour, pour a libation"). The term *gheu- is also the source of the Greek khein "to pour". Originally the German root was a neuter noun. The gender of the monotheistic God shifted to masculine under the influence of Christianity.{{rp|230–31}} In contrast, all ancient Indo-European cultures and mythologies recognized both masculine and feminine deities.


File:NASA-HS201427a-HubbleUltraDeepField2014-20140603.jpg|thumb|(Pantheism|Pantheists]] believe that the universe itself and everything in it forms a single, all-encompassing deity.BOOK, Pearsall, Judy, The New Oxford Dictionary Of English, 1998, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-861263-6, 1341, 1st, BOOK, Edwards, Paul, Encyclopedia of Philosophy,weblink registration, 1967, Macmillan, New York, 34, )There is no universally accepted consensus on what a deity is, and concepts of deities vary considerably across cultures. Huw Owen states that the term "deity or god or its equivalent in other languages" has a bewildering range of meanings and significance.{{rp|vii-ix}} It has ranged from "infinite transcendent being who created and lords over the universe" (God), to a "finite entity or experience, with special significance or which evokes a special feeling" (god), to "a concept in religious or philosophical context that relates to nature or magnified beings or a supra-mundane realm", to "numerous other usages".{{rp|vii–ix}}A deity is typically conceptualized as a supernatural or divine concept, manifesting in ideas and knowledge, in a form that combines excellence in some or all aspects, wrestling with weakness and questions in other aspects, heroic in outlook and actions, yet tied up with emotions and desires.BOOK, Gupta, Bina, Gupta, Professor of Philosophy and Director South Asia Language Area Center Bina, An Introduction to Indian Philosophy: Perspectives on Reality, Knowledge, and Freedom, {{google books, y, -WepAgAAQBAJ, 21, |date=2012|publisher=Routledge|isbn=978-1-136-65310-0|pages=21–25}}BOOK, Gupta, Bina, An Introduction to Indian Philosophy: Perspectives on Reality, Knowledge, and Freedom, {{google books, y, 2mmpAgAAQBAJ, 88, |year= 2012|publisher=Taylor & Francis|isbn=978-1-136-65309-4|pages=88–96}} In other cases, the deity is a principle or reality such as the idea of "soul". The Upanishads of Hinduism, for example, characterize Atman (soul, self) as deva (deity), thereby asserting that the deva and eternal supreme principle (Brahman) is part of every living creature, that this soul is spiritual and divine, and that to realize self-knowledge is to know the supreme.BOOK, Cohen, Signe, Text and Authority in the Older Upaniṣads, {{google books, y, dUKwCQAAQBAJ, 40, |date=2008|publisher=Brill|isbn=978-90-474-3363-7|pages=40, 219–20, 243–44}}BOOK, Fowler, Jeaneane, Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, 1997, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 978-1-898723-60-8, 10, 17–18, 114–18, 132–33, 49, {{google books, y, RmGKHu20hA0C, 10, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Choon Kim, Yong, Freeman, David H., Oriental Thought: An Introduction to the Philosophical and Religious Thought of Asia, 1981, Littlefield, Adams and Company, Totowa, NJ, 978-0-8226-0365-8, 15–19, {{google books, y, omwMQA_DUVEC, 15, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}Theism is the belief in the existence of one or more deities.WEB, the definition of theism,weblink, 22 January 2018, WEB, theism,weblink Merriam-Webster, 22 January 2018, en, Polytheism is the belief in and worship of multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, with accompanying rituals.BOOK, Libbrecht, Ulrich, Within the Four Seas: Introduction to Comparative Philosophy, {{google books, y, rmT3ZHGxJPgC, 42, |year=2007|publisher=Peeters Publishers|isbn=978-90-429-1812-2|page=42}} In most polytheistic religions, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator God or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature. Henotheism accepts the existence of more than one deity, but considers all deities as equivalent representations or aspects of the same divine principle, the highest.Monotheism and Polytheism, Encyclopædia Britannica;BOOK, Louis Shores, Collier's Encyclopedia: With Bibliography and Index,weblink 1963, Crowell-Collier Publishing, 179, , Quote: "While admitting a plurality of gods, henotheism at the same time affirms the paramount position of some one divine principle."BOOK, Taliaferro, Charles, Harrison, Victoria S., Goetz, Stewart, The Routledge Companion to Theism, 2012, Taylor and Francis, Hoboken, 978-1-136-33823-6, 78–79, {{google books, y, ct7fCgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=22 January 2018}};BOOK, Rangar Cline, Ancient Angels: Conceptualizing Angeloi in the Roman Empire,weblink 2011, Brill Academic, 978-90-04-19453-3, 40–41, Monolatry is the belief that many deities exist, but that only one of these deities may be validly worshipped.BOOK, Eakin, Jr, Frank, The Religion and Culture of Israel, Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1971, 70, , Quote: "Monolatry: The recognition of the existence of many gods but the consistent worship of one deity".{{citation |authorlink= Bruce R. McConkie |first= Bruce R. |last= McConkie |title= Mormon Doctrine |edition= 2nd |location= Salt Lake City, UT |publisher= Bookcraft |year= 1979 |page= 351|title-link= Mormon Doctrine }}Monotheism is the belief that only one deity exists.BOOK, Hutchinson Encyclopedia (12th edition), Monotheism, 644, Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.WEB, Wainwright, William, Monotheism,weblink The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 22 January 2018, 2013, WEB, Van Baaren, Theodorus P., Monotheism,weblink Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 January 2018, en, WEB, monotheism,weblink Oxford Dictionaries, 22 January 2018, WEB, monotheism,weblink Merriam-Webster, 22 January 2018, en, WEB, monotheism,weblink Cambridge English Dictionary, 22 January 2018, en, A monotheistic deity, known as "God", is usually described as omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and eternal. However, not all deities have been regarded this wayBOOK, Beck, Guy L., Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity, 2005, State University of New York Press, Albany, 978-0-7914-6415-1, 169, note 11, BOOK, Williams, George M., Handbook of Hindu Mythology, 2008, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-533261-2, 24–35, Reprint, and an entity does not need to be almighty, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent or eternal to qualify as a deity.Deism is the belief that only one deity exists, who created the universe, but does not usually intervene in the resulting world.WEB, Manuel, Frank Edward, Pailin, David A., Deism,weblink Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 January 2018, en, 1999, In general, Deism refers to what can be called natural religion, the acceptance of a certain body of religious knowledge that is inborn in every person or that can be acquired by the use of reason and the rejection of religious knowledge when it is acquired through either revelation or the teaching of any church., WEB, Kohler, Kaufmann, Hirsch, Emil G., DEISM,weblink Jewish Encyclopedia, 22 January 2018, 1906, DEISM: A system of belief which posits God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits His perfection, but rejects Divine revelation and government, proclaiming the all-sufficiency of natural laws., BOOK, Kurian, George Thomas, The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, 2008, Blackwell, Malden, MA, 978-0-470-67060-6, Deism is a rationalistic, critical approach to theism with an emphasis on natural theology. The Deists attempted to reduce religion to what they regarded as its most foundational, rationally justifiable elements. Deism is not, strictly speaking, the teaching that God wound up the world like a watch and let it run on its own, though that teaching was embraced by some within the movement., {{Page needed|date=January 2018}} Deism was particularly popular among western intellectuals during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.BOOK, Thomsett, Michael C., Heresy in the Roman Catholic Church: A History, 2011, McFarland & Co., Jefferson, 978-0-7864-8539-0, 222, {{google books, y, LDbhV7u1_yIC, |accessdate=22 January 2018}}BOOK, Wilson, Ellen Judy, Reill, Peter Hanns, Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, 2004, Facts On File, New York, 978-0-8160-5335-3, 146–58, Revised, {{google books, y, t1pQ4YG-TDIC, |accessdate=22 January 2018}} Pantheism is the belief that the universe itself is God or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent deity. Panentheism is the belief that divinity pervades the universe, but that it also transcends the universe.BOOK, Fahlbusch, Erwin, Bromiley, Geoffrey William, The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 2005, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 978-0-8028-2416-5, 21, {{google books, y, sCY4sAjTGIYC, 21, |accessdate=22 January 2018|language=en}} Agnosticism is the position that it is impossible to know for certain whether a deity of any kind exists.BOOK, Borchert, Donald M., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006, Macmillan Reference, Detroit, 978-0-02-865780-6, 92, 2nd, In the most general use of the term, agnosticism is the view that we do not know whether there is a God or not., Encyclopedia of Philosophy, BOOK, Craig, Edward, Floridi, Luciano, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1998, Routledge, London, 978-0-415-07310-3, 112, {{google books, y, VQ-GhVWTH84C, 122, |accessdate=22 January 2018|language=en|quote=In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in God, whereas an atheist disbelieves in God. In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist. In so far as one holds that our beliefs are rational only if they are sufficiently supported by human reason, the person who accepts the philosophical position of agnosticism will hold that neither the belief that God exists nor the belief that God does not exist is rational.}}DICTIONARY, OED Online, 3rd ed., agnostic, agnosticism, Oxford University Press, 2012, agnostic. : A. n[oun]. :# A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of immaterial things, especially of the existence or nature of God. :# In extended use: a person who is not persuaded by or committed to a particular point of view; a sceptic. Also: person of indeterminate ideology or conviction; an equivocator. : B. adj[ective]. :# Of or relating to the belief that the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena is unknown and (as far as can be judged) unknowable. Also: holding this belief. :# a. In extended use: not committed to or persuaded by a particular point of view; sceptical. Also: politically or ideologically unaligned; non-partisan, equivocal. agnosticism n. The doctrine or tenets of agnostics with regard to the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena or to knowledge of a First Cause or God., Atheism is the non-belief in the existence of any deity.BOOK, Draper, Paul, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, Fall 2017,weblink 22 January 2018, Atheism and Agnosticism,


File:Museum of Anatolian Civilizations 1320259 nevit.jpg|thumb|upright|Statuette of a nude, corpulent, seated woman flanked by two felines from Çatalhöyük, dating to {{circa}} 6000 BCE, thought by most archaeologists to represent a goddess of some kindBOOK, James, Mellaart, 1967, Catal Huyuk: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia, (McGraw-Hill]], 181, A typical assessment: "A terracotta statuette of a seated (mother) goddess giving birth with each hand on the head of a leopard or panther from Çatalhöyük (dated around 6000 B.C.E.)" (Sarolta A. Takács, "Cybele and Catullus' Attis", in Eugene N. Lane, Cybele, Attis and related cults: essays in memory of M.J. Vermaseren 1996:376.){{further|Prehistoric religion}}Scholars infer the probable existence of deities in the prehistoric period from inscriptions and prehistoric arts such as cave drawings, but it is unclear what these sketches and paintings are and why they were made.BOOK, Brooks, Philip, The Story of Prehistoric Peoples, 2012, Rosen Central, New York, 978-1-4488-4790-7, 22–23, {{google books, y, exY3ViA3sSQC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Some engravings or sketches show animals, hunters or rituals.BOOK, Ruether, Rosemary Radford, Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History, 2006, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 978-0-520-25005-5, 3, 1st, {{google books, y, mb_her-hd9YC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} It was once common for archaeologists to interpret virtually every prehistoric female figurine as a representation of a single, primordial goddess, the ancestor of historically attested goddesses such as Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Cybele, and Aphrodite;BOOK, Lesure, Richard G., The Oxford Handbook of Prehistoric Figurines, 2017, Insoll, Timothy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-967561-6, 54–58,weblink harv, this approach has now generally been discredited. Modern archaeologists now generally recognize that it is impossible to conclusively identify any prehistoric figurines as representations of any kind of deities, let alone goddesses. Nonetheless, it is possible to evaluate ancient representations on a case-by-case basis and rate them on how likely they are to represent deities. The Venus of Willendorf, a female figurine found in Europe and dated to about 25,000 BCE has been interpreted by some as an exemplar of a prehistoric female deity. A number of probable representations of deities have been discovered at 'Ain Ghazal and the works of art uncovered at Çatalhöyük reveal references to what is probably a complex mythology.

Regional cultures

Sub-Saharan African

(File:Musée africain Lyon 130909 02.jpg|thumb|upright=0.55|A Yoruba deity from Nigeria.)File:ASC Leiden - Rietveld Collection - Nigeria 1970 - 1973 - 01 - 046 A pot or a god? A man in a doorway with an earthenware vase on which a sculpted head with an open mouth - Province of Bauchi.jpg|thumb|A man shows his earthenware speaking god or ancestor, Bauchi StateBauchi StateDiverse African cultures developed theology and concepts of deities over their history. In Nigeria and neighboring West African countries, for example, two prominent deities (locally called Òrìṣà)BOOK, Murphy, Joseph M., Sanford, Mei-Mei, Osun across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas, 2002, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 978-0-253-10863-0, 1–8, {{google books, y, XIx0TjQb8yEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} are found in the Yoruba religion, namely the god Ogun and the goddess Osun. Ogun is the primordial masculine deity as well as the archdivinity and guardian of occupations such as tools making and use, metal working, hunting, war, protection and ascertaining equity and justice.BOOK, Barnes, Sandra T., Africa's Ogun: Old World and New, 1997, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 978-0-253-21083-8, ix–x, 1–3, 59, 132–34, 199–200, 2nd, {{google books, y, 8OWjkR-1btMC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Juang, Richard M., Morrissette, Noelle, Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, 2007, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 978-1-85109-441-7, 843–44, {{google books, y, wFrAOqfhuGYC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Osun is an equally powerful primordial feminine deity and a multidimensional guardian of fertility, water, maternal, health, social relations, love and peace. Ogun and Osun traditions were brought into the Americas on slave ships. They were preserved by the Africans in their plantation communities, and their festivals continue to be observed.In Southern African cultures, a similar masculine-feminine deity combination has appeared in other forms, particularly as the Moon and Sun deities.BOOK, Andrews, Tamra, Dictionary of Nature Myths: Legends of the Earth, Sea, and Sky, 2000, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-513677-7, 6–7, {{google books, y, 7jS65aClvFEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} One Southern African cosmology consists of Hieseba or Xuba (deity, god), Gaune (evil spirits) and Khuene (people). The Hieseba includes Nladiba (male, creator sky god) and Nladisara (females, Nladiba's two wives). The Sun (female) and the Moon (male) deities are viewed as offspring of Nladiba and two Nladisara. The Sun and Moon are viewed as manifestations of the supreme deity, and worship is timed and directed to them.BOOK, Barnard, Alan, Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A Comparative Ethnography of the Khoisan Peoples, 2001, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-521-42865-1, 87–88, 153–55, 252–56, {{google books, y, 2nBx83jMc48C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} In other African cultures the Sun is seen as male, while the Moon is female, both symbols of the godhead.{{rp|199-120}} In Zimbabwe, the supreme deity is androgynous with male-female aspects, envisioned as the giver of rain, treated simultaneously as the god of darkness and light and is called Mwari Shona.{{rp|89}} In the Lake Victoria region, the term for a deity is Lubaale, or alternatively Jok.BOOK, Makward, Edris, Lilleleht, Mark, Saber, Ahmed, North-south Linkages and Connections in Continental and Diaspora African Literatures, 2004, Africa World, Trenton, NJ, 978-1-59221-157-9, 302–04, {{google books, y, zGUcI99zssYC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}

Ancient Near Eastern


File:La Tombe de Horemheb cropped.jpg|thumb|Egyptian tomb painting showing the gods Osiris, Anubis, and HorusHorusAncient Egyptian culture revered numerous deities. Egyptian records and inscriptions list the names of many whose nature is unknown and make vague references to other unnamed deities.{{rp|73}} Egyptologist James P. Allen estimates that more than 1,400 deities are named in Egyptian texts,JOURNAL, Allen, James P., James Peter Allen, Monotheism: The Egyptian Roots, Archaeology Odyssey, Jul–Aug 1999, 2, 3, 44–54, 59, whereas Christian Leitz offers an estimate of "thousands upon thousands" of Egyptian deities.{{rp|393–94}} Their terms for deities were nṯr (god), and feminine nṯrt (goddess);{{rp|42}} however, these terms may also have applied to any being – spirits and deceased human beings, but not demons – who in some way were outside the sphere of everyday life.{{rp|216}}{{rp|62}} Egyptian deities typically had an associated cult, role and mythologies.{{rp|7–8, 83}}Around 200 deities are prominent in the Pyramid texts and ancient temples of Egypt, many zoomorphic. Among these, were Min (fertility god), Neith (creator goddess), Anubis, Atum, Bes, Horus, Isis, Ra, Meretseger, Nut, Osiris, Shu, Sia and Thoth.{{rp|11–12}} Most Egyptian deities represented natural phenomenon, physical objects or social aspects of life, as hidden immanent forces within these phenomena.BOOK, Allen, James P., Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, 2001, Cambridge University Press, New York, 978-0-521-77483-3, 43–45, BOOK, Dunand, Françoise, Zivie-Coche, Christiane, Françoise Dunand, Lorton, David, Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE, 2004, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-8853-5, 26, The deity Shu, for example represented air; the goddess Meretseger represented parts of the earth, and the god Sia represented the abstract powers of perception.{{rp|91, 147}} Deities such as Ra and Osiris were associated with the judgement of the dead and their care during the afterlife.{{rp|26–28}} Major gods often had multiple roles and were involved in multiple phenomena.{{rp|85–86}}The first written evidence of deities are from early 3rd millennium BCE, likely emerging from prehistoric beliefs.BOOK, Wilkinson, Toby A.H., Early dynastic Egypt, 1999, Routledge, New York, 978-0-415-18633-9, 261–62, 1st, However, deities became systematized and sophisticated after the formation of an Egyptian state under the Pharaohs and their treatment as sacred kings who had exclusive rights to interact with the gods, in the later part of the 3rd millennium BCE.BOOK, Traunecker, Claude, Lorton, David, The Gods of Egypt, 2001, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-3834-9, 29, 1st,weblink {{rp|12–15}} Through the early centuries of the common era, as Egyptians interacted and traded with neighboring cultures, foreign deities were adopted and venerated.BOOK, Shafer, Byron E., Baines, John, Lesko, Leonard H., Silverman, David P., Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, 1991, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-9786-5, 58, {{rp|160}}


File:Zeus Yahweh.jpg|thumb|A 4th century BCE drachm (quarter shekel) coin from the Persian province of 766}}{{rp|190}}The ancient Canaanites were polytheists who believed in a pantheon of deities,BOOK, Day, John, 2002, 2000, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, {{google books, y, 2xadCgAAQBAJ, |location=Sheffield, England|publisher=Sheffield Academic Press|isbn=978-0-8264-6830-7|ref=harv}}BOOK, Coogan, Michael D., Smith, Mark S., Stories from Ancient Canaan (2nd Edition), Presbyterian Publishing Corp, 2012, {{google books, y, G49SJI183IkC, |isbn = 978-90-5356-503-2|page=8|ref = harv}}BOOK, Smith, Mark S., 2002, Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, Eerdmans, {{google books, y, 1yM3AuBh4AsC, 28, |ref = harv|edition = 2nd|isbn = 978-0-8028-3972-5}} the chief of whom was the god El, who ruled alongside his consort Asherah and their seventy sons.{{rp|22–24}} Baal was the god of storm, rain, vegetation and fertility,{{rp|68–127}} while his consort Anat was the goddess of war{{rp|131, 137–39}} and Astarte, the West Semitic equivalent to Ishtar, was the goddess of love.{{rp|146–49}} The people of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah originally believed in these deities,BOOK, Albertz, Rainer, A History of Israelite Religion, Volume I: From the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy, Westminster John Knox, 1994, {{google books, y, yvZUWbTftSgC, 89, |page=61|ref = harv|isbn = 978-0-664-22719-7}} alongside their own national god Yahweh.BOOK, Miller, Patrick D, Patrick D. Miller, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah, Westminster John Knox Press, 1986, {{google books, y, uDijjc_D5P0C, 110, |ref = harv|isbn = 978-0-664-21262-9|page=110}}BOOK, Grabbe, Lester L., An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism, A&C Black, 2010, {{google books, y, i89-9fdNUcAC, |ref = harv|isbn = 978-0-567-55248-8|page=184}} El later became syncretized with Yahweh, who took over El's role as the head of the pantheon,{{rp|13–17}} with Asherah as his divine consort{{rp|45}}{{rp|146}} and the "sons of El" as his offspring.{{rp|22–24}} During the later years of the Kingdom of Judah, a monolatristic faction rose to power insisting that only Yahweh was fit to be worshipped by the people of Judah.{{rp|229–33}} Monolatry became enforced during the reforms of King Josiah in 621 BCE.{{rp|229}} Finally, during the national crisis of the Babylonian captivity, some Judahites began to teach that deities aside from Yahweh were not just unfit to be worshipped, but did not exist.BOOK, Betz, Arnold Gottfried, Monotheism, Freedman, David Noel, Myer, Allen C., Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Eerdmans, 2000, {{google books, y, qRtUqxkB7wkC, 917=bible%20monotheism%20Betz, |isbn = 978-90-5356-503-2|page=917|ref = harv}}{{rp|4}} The "sons of El" were demoted from deities to angels.{{rp|22}}


{{multiple image| align = right| direction = horizontal| header =| width =| image1 = Ancient Akkadian Cylindrical Seal Depicting Inanna and Ninshubur.jpg| width1 = 200| alt1 =
cylinder seal impression showing Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, sex, and war{{rp>92, 193}}| image2 = Wall relief depicting the God Ashur (Assur) from Nimrud..JPG| width2 = 224| alt2 =national god Aššur in a "winged male" hybrid iconography.{{rp>73}}}}Ancient Mesopotamian culture in southern Iraq had numerous dingir (deities, gods and goddesses).{{rp|69–74}}BOOK, Strazny, Philipp, Encyclopedia of Linguistics, 2013, Routledge, 978-1-135-45522-4, 1046,weblink 28 June 2017, en, Mesopotamian deities were almost exclusively anthropomorphic.BOOK, Black, Jeremy, Green, Anthony, Rickards, Tessa, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, 1998, British Museum Press, London, 978-0-7141-1705-8, 2nd,weblink {{rp|93}}{{rp|69–74}}BOOK, Masson, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich, Altyn-Depe, 1988, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 978-0-934718-54-7, 77–78,weblink 28 June 2017, en, They were thought to possess extraordinary powers{{rp|93}} and were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size.{{rp|93}} They were generally immortal,{{rp|93}} but a few of them, particularly Dumuzid, Geshtinanna, and Gugalanna were said to have either died or visited the underworld.{{rp|93}} Both male and female deities were widely venerated.{{rp|93}}In the Sumerian pantheon, deities had multiple functions, which included presiding over procreation, rains, irrigation, agriculture, destiny, and justice.{{rp|69–74}} The gods were fed, clothed, entertained, and worshipped to prevent natural catastrophes as well as to prevent social chaos such as pillaging, rape, or atrocities.{{rp|69–74}}{{rp|186}}{{rp|93}} Many of the Sumerian deities were patron guardians of city-states.BOOK, Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea, Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat, Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, 1998, Greenwood Press, Westport, CN, 978-0-313-29497-6, 179,weblink The most important deities in the Sumerian pantheon were known as the Anunnaki,BOOK, Kramer, Samuel Noah, The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character,weblink registration, 1963, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 978-0-226-45238-8, 122–23, harv, and included deities known as the "seven gods who decree": An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu and Inanna. After the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad, many Sumerian deities were syncretized with East Semitic ones. The goddess Inanna, syncretized with the East Semitic Ishtar, became popular,BOOK, Leick, Gwendolyn, Gwendolyn Leick, A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology, 1998, Routledge, London, 978-0-415-19811-0, 87, 1st, {{google books, y, c52EAgAAQBAJ, 91, |accessdate=22 January 2018}}{{rp|xviii, xv}}{{rp|182}}{{rp|106–09}} with temples across Mesopotamia.JOURNAL, Harris, Rivkah, Inanna-Ishtar as Paradox and a Coincidence of Opposites, History of Religions, February 1991, 30, 3, 261–78, 10.1086/463228, {{rp|106–09}}The Mesopotamian mythology of the first millennium BCE treated Anšar (later Aššur) and Kišar as primordial deities.WEB,weblink Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses – Anšar and Kišar (god and goddess), Oracc, 6 June 2017, Marduk was a significant god among the Babylonians. He rose from an obscure deity of the third millennium BCE to become one of the most important deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon of the first millennium BCE. The Babylonians worshipped Marduk as creator of heaven, earth and humankind, and as their national god.{{rp|62, 73}}BOOK, Leeming, David, The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, 2005, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-028888-4, 122–24, {{google books, y, iPrhBwAAQBAJ, 122, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Marduk's iconography is zoomorphic and is most often found in Middle Eastern archaeological remains depicted as a "snake-dragon" or a "human-animal hybrid".WEB,weblink Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses – Marduk (god), Oracc, 6 June 2017, BOOK, Bienkowski, Piotr, Millard, Alan, Dictionary of the ancient Near East, 2000, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 978-0-8122-2115-2, 246, {{google books, y, V9QrPMN1C4EC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}



{{multiple image| align = right| perrow=2| image1 = Stater Zeus Lampsacus CdM.jpg| width1 = 200| alt1 =| caption1 = Zeus, the king of the gods in ancient Greek religion, shown on a gold stater from Lampsacus ({{circa}} 360–340 BCE)| image2 = Poseidon Penteskouphia Louvre CA452.jpg| width2 = 207| alt2 =
Black-figure pottery>black-figure plaque of Poseidon, the Greek god of the seas ({{circa}} 550–525 BCE)| image3 = Aphrodite swan BM D2.jpg| width3 = 200| alt3 =White ground technique>white-ground red-figured kylix of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, riding a swan ({{circa}} 46–470 BCE)| image4 = Bust Athena Velletri Glyptothek Munich 213.jpg| width4 = 205| alt4 =Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, copy after a votive statue of Kresilas in Athens ({{circa>425}} BCE)}}The ancient Greeks revered both gods and goddesses.BOOK, Martin, Thomas R., Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times, 2013, Yale University Press, New Haven, 978-0-300-16005-5, 39–40, 2nd, {{google books, y, iyFaMmr4hFwC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} These continued to be revered through the early centuries of the common era, and many of the Greek deities inspired and were adopted as part of much larger pantheon of Roman deities.{{rp|91–97}} The Greek religion was polytheistic, but had no centralized church, nor any sacred texts.{{rp|91–97}} The deities were largely associated with myths and they represented natural phenomena or aspects of human behavior.{{rp|91–97}}Several Greek deities probably trace back to more ancient Indo-European traditions, since the gods and goddesses found in distant cultures are mythologically comparable and are cognates.{{rp|230–31}}{{rp|15–19}} Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, for instance, is cognate to Indic Ushas, Roman Aurora and Latvian Auseklis.{{rp|230–32}} Zeus, the Greek king of gods, is cognate to Latin Iūpiter, Old German Ziu, and Indic Dyaus, with whom he shares similar mythologies.{{rp|230–32}}BOOK, West, Martin Litchfield, Martin Litchfield West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth, 2007, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-928075-9, 166–73, 1st, Other deities, such as Aphrodite, originated from the Near East.BOOK, Breitenberger, Barbara, Aphrodite and Eros: The Development of Greek Erotic Mythology, 2005, Routledge, New York, 978-0-415-96823-2, 8–12, {{google books, y, PSFePRxm1jAC, 10, |accessdate=22 January 2018}}BOOK, Cyrino, Monica S., Aphrodite, 2010, Routledge, New York, 978-0-415-77523-6, 59–52, {{google books, y, 7gyVn5GjXPkCAphrodite, |accessdate=22 January 2018}}BOOK, Puhvel, Jaan, Comparative Mythology, 1989, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 978-0-8018-3938-2, 27, 2nd, JOURNAL, Marcovich, Miroslav, From Ishtar to Aphrodite, Journal of Aesthetic Education, 1996, 39, 2, 43–59, 10.2307/3333191, 3333191, Greek deities varied locally, but many shared panhellenic themes, celebrated similar festivals, rites, and ritual grammar.BOOK, Flensted-Jensen, Pernille, Further Studies in the Ancient Greek Polis, 2000, Steiner, Stuttgart, 978-3-515-07607-4, 9–12, {{google books, y, uK8szXLlvjoC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The most important deities in the Greek pantheon were the Twelve Olympians: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hermes, Demeter, Dionysus, Hephaestus, and Ares.{{rp|125–70}} Other important Greek deities included Hestia, Hades and Heracles.{{rp|96–97}} These deities later inspired the Dii Consentes galaxy of Roman deities.{{rp|96–97}}Besides the Olympians, the Greeks also worshipped various local deities.{{rp|170–81}}WEB, Pollard, John Ricard Thornhill, Adkins, A.W.H., Greek religion,weblink Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 January 2018, en, 19 September 1998, Among these were the goat-legged god Pan (the guardian of shepherds and their flocks), Nymphs (nature spirits associated with particular landforms), Naiads (who dwelled in springs), Dryads (who were spirits of the trees), Nereids (who inhabited the sea), river gods, satyrs (a class of lustful male nature spirits), and others. The dark powers of the underworld were represented by the Erinyes (or Furies), said to pursue those guilty of crimes against blood-relatives.The Greek deities, like those in many other Indo-European traditions, were anthropomorphic. Walter Burkert describes them as "persons, not abstractions, ideas or concepts".{{rp|182}} They had fantastic abilities and powers; each had some unique expertise and, in some aspects, a specific and flawed personality.{{rp|52}} They were not omnipotent and could be injured in some circumstances.BOOK, Stoll, Heinrich Wilhelm, Handbook of the religion and mythology of the Greeks, 1852, 3, {{google books, y, UWoBAAAAQAAJ&pg=4, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Greek deities led to cults, were used politically and inspired votive offerings for favors such as bountiful crops, healthy family, victory in war, or peace for a loved one recently deceased.{{rp|94–95}}BOOK, Garland, Robert, Introducing New Gods: The Politics of Athenian Religion, 1992, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-2766-4, 1–9, {{google books, y, 7Ne-bCX_DaUC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}


File:Kirkby Stephen Stone by Petersen.jpg|thumb|upright=0.7|The Kirkby Stephen Stone, discovered in Kirkby Stephen, England, depicts a bound figure, who some have theorized may be the Germanic god (Loki]].BOOK, Orchard, Andy, Andy Orchard, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend,weblink registration, 1996, Cassell, London, 978-0-304-34520-5, 105, )In Norse mythology, Æsir means gods, while Ásynjur means goddesses.{{rp|49–50}} These terms, states John Lindow, may be ultimately rooted in the Indo-European root for "breath" (as in "life giving force"), and to the cognates os which means deity in Old English and anses in Gothic.{{rp|49–50}}Another group of deities found in Norse mythology are termed as Vanir, and are associated with fertility. The Æsir and the Vanir went to war, according to the Norse and Germanic mythologies. According to the Norse texts such as Ynglinga saga, the Æsir–Vanir War ended in truce and ultimate reconciliation of the two into a single group of deities, after both sides chose peace, exchanged ambassadors (hostages),{{rp|181}} and intermarried.{{rp|52–53}}BOOK, Gimbutas, Marija, Dexter, Miriam Robbins, The Living Goddesses, 2001, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 978-0-520-22915-0, 191–96, 1st, {{google books, y, 7DfI39EDbMcC, |language=en}}The Norse mythology describes the cooperation after the war, as well as differences between the Æsir and the Vanir which were considered scandalous by the other side.{{rp|181}} The goddess Freyja of the Vanir taught magic to the Æsir, while the two sides discover that while Æsir forbid mating between siblings, Vanir accepted such mating.{{rp|181}}BOOK, Christensen, Lisbeth Bredholt, Hammer, Olav, Warburton, David, The Handbook of Religions in Ancient Europe, 2014, Routledge, 978-1-317-54453-1, 328–29, {{google books, y, rl5_BAAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Oosten, Jarich G., The War of the Gods (RLE Myth): The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology, 2015, Routledge, 978-1-317-55584-1, 36, {{google books, y, 5w_wBgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}Temples hosting images of Nordic deities (such as Thor, Odin and Freyr), as well as pagan worship rituals, continued in Nordic countries through the 12th century, according to historical records. This shocked Christian missionaries, and over time Christian equivalents were substituted for the Nordic deities to help suppress paganism.{{rp|187–88}}


File:MANNapoli 6705 creation of the man sarcophagus.jpg|thumb|upright=1.5|A 4th-century Roman sarcophagus depicting the creation of man by PrometheusPrometheusThe Roman pantheon had numerous deities, both Greek and non-Greek.{{rp|96–97}} The more famed deities, found in the mythologies and the 2nd millennium CE European arts, have been the anthropomorphic deities syncretized with the Greek deities. These include the six gods and six goddesses: Venus, Apollo, Mars, Diana, Minerva, Ceres, Vulcan, Juno, Mercury, Vesta, Neptune, Jupiter (Jove, Zeus); as well Bacchus, Pluto and Hercules.{{rp|96–97}}BOOK, Long, Charlotte R., The Twelve Gods of Greece and Rome, 1987, Brill Archive, 978-90-04-07716-4, 232–43, {{google books, y, 3dUUAAAAIAAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The non-Greek major deities include Janus, Fortuna, Vesta, Quirinus and Tellus (mother goddess, probably most ancient).{{rp|96–97}}BOOK, Woodard, Roger, Myth, ritual, and the warrior in Roman and Indo-European antiquity, 2013, Cambridge University Press, New York, 978-1-107-02240-9, 25–26, 93–96, 194–96, 1st, {{google books, y, VkXlcVMP_dQC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Some of the non-Greek deities had likely origins in more ancient European culture such as the ancient Germanic religion, while others may have been borrowed, for political reasons, from neighboring trade centers such as those in the Minoan or ancient Egyptian civilization.BOOK, Ruiz, Angel, Poetic Language and Religion in Greece and Rome, 2013, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 978-1-4438-5565-5, 90–91, {{google books, y, yGUxBwAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Mysliwiec, Karol, Lorton, David, The Twilight of Ancient Egypt: First Millennium B.C.E., 2000, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 978-0-8014-8630-2, 188, 1st, {{google books, y, dJycxuhvS8UC, |language=en}}BOOK, Todd, Malcolm, The Early Germans, 2004, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford, 978-1-4051-3756-0, 103–05, 2nd, {{google books, y, p5QdmV3zNpIC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}The Roman deities, in a manner similar to the ancient Greeks, inspired community festivals, rituals and sacrifices led by flamines (priests, pontifs), but priestesses (Vestal Virgins) were also held in high esteem for maintaining sacred fire used in the votive rituals for deities.{{rp|100–01}} Deities were also maintained in home shrines (lararium), such as Hestia honored in homes as the goddess of fire hearth.{{rp|100–01}}BOOK, Kristensen, f., The Meaning of Religion Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion, 1960, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 978-94-017-6580-0, 138, {{google books, y, p5QdmV3zNpIC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} This Roman religion held reverence for sacred fire, and this is also found in Hebrew culture (Leviticus 6), Vedic culture's Homa, ancient Greeks and other cultures.Ancient Roman scholars such as Varro and Cicero wrote treatises on the nature of gods of their times.BOOK, Walsh, P.G., The Nature of the Gods, 1997, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-162314-1, xxvi, {{google books, y, JhQ4aXatR08C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Varro stated, in his Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum, that it is the superstitious man who fears the gods, while the truly religious person venerates them as parents. Cicero, in his Academica, praised Varro for this and other insights. According to Varro, there have been three accounts of deities in the Roman society: the mythical account created by poets for theatre and entertainment, the civil account used by people for veneration as well as by the city, and the natural account created by the philosophers.BOOK, Barfield, Raymond, The Ancient Quarrel Between Philosophy and Poetry, 2011, Cambridge University Press, 978-1-139-49709-1, 75–76, {{google books, y, PY9FbnNhdDUC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The best state is, adds Varro, where the civil theology combines the poetic mythical account with the philosopher's. The Roman deities continued to be revered in Europe through the era of Constantine, and past 313 CE when he issued the Edict of Toleration.{{rp|118–20}}

Native American


{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = Inti Raymi2.jpg| width1 = 150| alt1 = | caption1 = | image2 = Viracocha.jpg| width2 = 82| alt2 = | caption2 =
Inti – the sun deity. Offerings include round bread and maize beer.PARKERLAST2=STANTONTITLE=MYTHOLOGY: MYTHS, LEGENDS AND FANTASIES PUBLISHER=STRUIKISBN=978-1-77007-453-8URL={{GOOGLE BOOKS ID=P7DR2W1WV2SC, language=en}} Right: Deity Viracocha.}}The Inca culture has believed in Viracocha (also called Pachacutec) as the creator deity.{{rp|27–30}}{{rp|726–29}} Viracocha has been an abstract deity to Inca culture, one who existed before he created space and time.BOOK, Kolata, Alan L., Ancient Inca, 2013, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-521-86900-3, 164, {{google books, y, RpELeDbp7BQC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} All other deities of the Inca people have corresponded to elements of nature.{{rp|726–29}} Of these, the most important ones have been Inti (sun deity) responsible for agricultural prosperity and as the father of the first Inca king, and Mama Qucha the goddess of the sea, lakes, rivers and waters. Inti in some mythologies is the son of Viracocha and Mama Qucha.BOOK, Sherman, Josepha, Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore, 2015, Routledge, 978-1-317-45938-5, 238, {{google books, y, n2-sBwAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}Inca people have revered many male and female deities. Among the feminine deities have been Mama Kuka (goddess of joy), Mama Ch'aska (goddess of dawn), Mama Allpa (goddess of harvest and earth, sometimes called Mama Pacha or Pachamama), Mama Killa (moon goddess) and Mama Sara (goddess of grain).{{rp|31–32}} During and after the imposition of Christianity during Spanish colonialism, the Inca people retained their original beliefs in deities through syncretism, where they overlay the Christian God and teachings over their original beliefs and practices.BOOK, Melton, J. Gordon, Baumann, Martin, Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2010, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 978-1-59884-204-3, 2243–44, 2nd, {{google books, y, v2yiyLLOj88C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Koschorke, Klaus, Ludwig, Frieder, Delgado, Mariano, Spliesgart, Roland, A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450–1990: A Documentary Sourcebook, 2007, W.B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 978-0-8028-2889-7, 323–25, {{google books, y, dbq6fkyp698C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Kuznar, Lawrence A., Ethnoarchaeology of Andean South America: Contributions to Archaeological Method and Theory, 2001, International Monographs in Prehistory, Ann Arbor, MI, 978-1-879621-29-9, 45–47, {{google books, y, 88R8AAAAMAAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The male deity Inti became accepted as the Christian God, but the Andean rituals centered around Inca deities have been retained and continued thereafter into the modern era by the Inca people.BOOK, Fagan, Brian M., Beck, Charlotte, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, 2006, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-507618-9, 345, {{google books, y, ystMAgAAQBAJ, 345, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}

Maya and Aztec

(File:Quetzalcoatl 1.jpg|thumb|upright=0.55|The zoomorphic feathered serpent deity (Kukulkan, Quetzalcoatl).)In Maya culture, Kukulkan has been the supreme creator deity, also revered as the god of reincarnation, water, fertility and wind.{{rp|797–98}} The Maya people built step pyramid temples to honor Kukulkan, aligning them to the Sun's position on the spring equinox.{{rp|843–44}} Other deities found at Maya archaeological sites include Xib Chac – the benevolent male rain deity, and Ixchel – the benevolent female earth, weaving and pregnancy goddess.{{rp|843–44}} The Maya calendar had 18 months, each with 20 days (and five unlucky days of Uayeb); each month had a presiding deity, who inspired social rituals, special trading markets and community festivals.A deity with aspects similar to Kulkulkan in the Aztec culture has been called Quetzalcoatl.{{rp|797–98}} However, states Timothy Insoll, the Aztec ideas of deity remain poorly understood. What has been assumed is based on what was constructed by Christian missionaries. The deity concept was likely more complex than these historical records.BOOK, Insoll, Timothy, The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion, 2011, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-923244-4, 563–67, {{google books, y, U4_ylNNHBy4C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} In Aztec culture, there were hundred of deities, but many were henotheistic incarnations of one another (similar to the avatar concept of Hinduism). Unlike Hinduism and other cultures, Aztec deities were usually not anthropomorphic, and were instead zoomorphic or hybrid icons associated with spirits, natural phenomena or forces.BOOK, Issitt, Micah Lee, Main, Carlyn, Hidden Religion: The Greatest Mysteries and Symbols of the World's Religious Beliefs: The Greatest Mysteries and Symbols of the World's Religious Beliefs, 2014, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-61069-478-0, 373–75, {{google books, y, kmFhBQAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The Aztec deities were often represented through ceramic figurines, revered in home shrines.BOOK, Faust, Katherine A., Richter, Kim N., The Huasteca: Culture, History, and Interregional Exchange, 2015, University of Oklahoma Press, 978-0-8061-4957-8, 162–63, {{google books, y, f5j_BwAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}


(File:Wooden idols of Polynesia (1830).jpg|thumb|left|upright=0.65|Deities of Polynesia carved from wood (bottom two are demons).)The Polynesian people developed a theology centered on numerous deities, with clusters of islands having different names for the same idea. There are great deities found across the Pacific Ocean. Some deities are found widely, and there are many local deities whose worship is limited to one or a few islands or sometimes to isolated villages on the same island.{{rp|5–6}}The Māori people, of what is now New Zealand, called the supreme being as Io, who is also referred elsewhere as Iho-Iho, Io-Mataaho, Io Nui, Te Io Ora, Io Matua Te Kora among other names.{{rp|239}} The Io deity has been revered as the original uncreated creator, with power of life, with nothing outside or beyond him.{{rp|239}}Other deities in the Polynesian pantheon include Tangaloa (god who created men),{{rp|37–38}} La'a Maomao (god of winds), Tu-Matauenga or Ku (god of war), Tu-Metua (mother goddess), Kane (god of procreation) and Rangi (sky god father).{{rp|261, 284, 399, 476}}The Polynesian deities have been part of a sophisticated theology, addressing questions of creation, the nature of existence, guardians in daily lives as well as during wars, natural phenomena, good and evil spirits, priestly rituals, as well as linked to the journey of the souls of the dead.{{rp|6–14, 37–38, 113, 323}}


Abrahamic religions


File:Švenčiausioji Trejybė.jpg|thumb|left|upright=0.7|Holy Trinity (1756–1758) by Szymon Czechowicz, showing God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy SpiritHoly SpiritChristianity is a monotheistic religion in which most mainstream congregations and denominations accept the concept of the Holy Trinity.{{rp|233–34}} Modern orthodox Christians believe that the Trinity is composed of three equal, cosubstantial persons: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit.{{rp|233–34}} The first person to describe the persons of the Trinity as homooúsios (ὁμοούσιος; "of the same substance") was the Church Father Origen.BOOK, La Due, William J., 2003, Trinity Guide to the Trinity,weblink Harrisburg, PA, Trinity Press International, 978-1-56338-395-3, 38, harv, Although most early Christian theologians (including Origen) were Subordinationists,{{citation|last=Badcock|first=Gary D.|date=1997|title=Light of Truth and Fire of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit|url=|location=GrandRapids, MI|publisher=Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company|isbn=978-0-8028-4288-6|page=43|ref=harv}} who believed that the Father was superior to the Son and the Son superior to the Holy Spirit,BOOK, Olson, Roger E., 1999, The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform,weblink Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 978-0-8308-1505-0, 25, harv, BOOK, Greggs, Tom, 2009, Barth, Origen, and Universal Salvation: Restoring Particularity,weblink Oxford, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-956048-6, 161, harv, this belief was condemned as heretical by the First Council of Nicaea in the fourth century, which declared that all three persons of the Trinity are equal. Christians regard the universe as an element in God's actualization{{rp|273}} and the Holy Spirit is seen as the divine essence that is "the unity and relation of the Father and the Son".{{rp|273}} According to George Hunsinger, the doctrine of the Trinity justifies worship in a Church, wherein Jesus Christ is deemed to be a full deity with the Christian cross as his icon.{{rp|296}}The theological examination of Jesus Christ, of divine grace in incarnation, his non-transferability and completeness has been a historic topic. For example, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE declared that in "one person Jesus Christ, fullness of deity and fullness of humanity are united, the union of the natures being such that they can neither be divided nor confused".BOOK, Larsen, Timothy, Treier, Daniel J., The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology, 2007, Cambridge University Press, 978-1-139-82750-8, {{google books, y, vlmXBe0RPxYC, 51, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament, is the self-disclosure of the one, true God, both in his teaching and in his person; Christ, in Christian faith, is considered the incarnation of God.{{rp|4, 29}}BOOK, Aslanoff, Catherine, The Incarnate God: The Feasts and the life of Jesus Christ, 1995, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 978-0-88141-130-0, {{google books, y, QpVNuPwnIIcC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Inbody, Tyron, The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology, 2005, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 978-0-8028-4151-3, 205–32, {{google books, y, cHvF2SiBn-kC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}


Ilah, {{transl|ar|DIN|ʾIlāh}} (; plural: {{transl|ar|DIN|ʾālihah}}), is an Arabic word meaning "god".ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Zeki Saritoprak, Allah, Oliver Leaman, The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 2006, 34, 9780415326391, ENCYCLOPEDIA, Vincent J. Cornell, God: God in Islam, Lindsay Jones, Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd, MacMillan Reference, 5, 2005, 724, It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as Allah ({{transl|ar|DIN|al-Lāh}}).WEB,weblink God, Islam: Empire of Faith, PBS, 18 December 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 27 March 2014, "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh.ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Allah, Encyclopaedia of Islam Online, L., Gardet, 2 May 2007, P., Bearman, Th., Bianquis, C.E., Bosworth, E., van Donzel, W.P., Heinrichs, Brill Online, which literally means "the god" in Arabic. Islam is strictly monotheisticBOOK, Hammer, Juliane, Safi, Omid, The Cambridge Companion to American Islam, 2013, Cambridge University Press, New York, 978-1-107-00241-8, 213, 1st, {{google books, y, OBPKKFUyZaUC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} and the first statement of the shahada, or Muslim confession of faith, is that "there is no {{transl|ar|DIN|ʾilāh}} (deity) but {{transl|ar|DIN|al-Lāh}} (God)",BOOK, Yust, Karen Marie, Johnson, Aostre N., Sasso, Sandy Eisenberg, Roehlkepartain, Eugene C., Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions, 2006, 978-1-4616-6590-8, 300, {{google books, y, adMkAgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} who is perfectly unified and utterly indivisible.BOOK, Piamenta, Moshe, The Muslim Conception of God and Human Welfare: As Reflected in Everyday Arabic Speech, 1983, Brill Archive, 16–17, {{google books, y, FOIUAAAAIAAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}The term Allah is used by Muslims for God. The Persian word Khuda (Persian: خدا) can be translated as god, lord or king, and is also used today to refer to God in Islam by Persian and Urdu speakers. The Turkic word for god is Tengri; it exists as Tanrı in Turkish.


File:Tetragrammaton scripts.svg|thumb|The tetragrammaton in Phoenician (12th century BCE to 150 BCE), Paleo-Hebrew (10th century BCE to 135 CE), and square Hebrew (3rd century BCE to present) scripts]]Judaism affirms the existence of one God (Yahweh, or YHWH), who is not abstract, but He who revealed himself throughout Jewish history particularly during the Exodus and the Exile.{{rp|4}} Judaism reflects a monotheism that gradually arose, was affirmed with certainty in the sixth century "Second Isaiah", and has ever since been the axiomatic basis of its theology.{{rp|4}}The classical presentation of Judaism has been as a monotheistic faith that rejected deities and related idolatry.BOOK, Terry, Michael, Reader's Guide to Judaism, 2013, Routledge, 978-1-135-94150-5, 287–88, {{google books, y, Aw5EAgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} However, states Breslauer, modern scholarship suggests that idolatry was not absent in biblical faith, and it resurfaced multiple times in Jewish religious life. The rabbinic texts and other secondary Jewish literature suggest worship of material objects and natural phenomena through the medieval era, while the core teachings of Judaism maintained monotheism.BOOK, Kochan, Lionel, Jews, Idols, and Messiahs: The Challenge from History, 1990, B. Blackwell, Oxford, 978-0-631-15477-8, {{google books, y, fWVsQgAACAAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}{{Page needed|date=June 2017}}According to Aryeh Kaplan, God is always referred to as "He" in Judaism, "not to imply that the concept of sex or gender applies to God", but because "there is no neuter in the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew word for God is a masculine noun" as he "is an active rather than a passive creative force".BOOK, Kaplan, Aryeh, The Aryeh Kaplan Reader: The Gift He Left Behind : Collected Essays on Jewish Themes from the Noted Writer and Thinker, 1983, Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, NY, 978-0-89906-173-3, 144–45, 1st, {{google books, y, bv5lmlmRmbwC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}

Eastern religions


{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = Ssangbongsa 11-05266.JPG | width1 = 105| alt1 = | caption1 = | image2 = A Chinese deity with sword accompanied by a tiger. Gouache Wellcome V0047141.jpg | width2 = 101| alt2 = | caption2 = | footer = Left: A Buddhist deity in Ssangbongsa in South Korea; Right: A Chinese deity adopted into Buddhism.}}{{further|Creator in Buddhism}}Buddhists do not believe in a creator deity.BOOK, McClelland, Norman C., Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma, 2010, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 978-0-7864-5675-8, 136, However, deities are an essential part of Buddhist teachings about cosmology, rebirth, and saṃsāra. Buddhist deities (known as devas) are believed to reside in a pleasant, heavenly realm within Buddhist cosmology,BOOK, Trainor, Kevin, Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide, 2004, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-517398-7, 62, {{google books, y, _PrloTKuAjwC, |accessdate=4 October 2017|language=en}} which is typically subdivided into twenty six sub-realms.{{rp|35}} These beings are numerous, but they are still mortal; they live in the heavenly realm, then die and are reborn like all other beings. A rebirth in the heavenly realm is believed to be the result of leading an ethical life and accumulating very good karma. A deva does not need to work, and is able to enjoy in the heavenly realm all pleasures found on Earth. However, the pleasures of this realm lead to attachment (Upādāna ), lack of spiritual pursuits, and therefore no nirvana.{{rp|37}} The vast majority of Buddhist lay people in countries practicing Theravada, states Kevin Trainor, have historically pursued Buddhist rituals and practices because they are motivated by their potential rebirth into the deva realm.BOOK, Fowler, Merv, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices, 1999, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 978-1-898723-66-0, 65, {{google books, y, A7UKjtA0QDwC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en|quote=For a vast majority of Buddhists in Theravadin countries, however, the order of monks is seen by lay Buddhists as a means of gaining the most merit in the hope of accumulating good karma for a better rebirth.}}BOOK, Gowans, Christopher, Philosophy of the Buddha: An Introduction, 2004, Routledge, 978-1-134-46973-4, 169, {{google books, y, EbU4Hd5lro0C, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} The deva realm in Buddhist practice in Southeast Asia and East Asia, states Keown, include gods found in Hindu traditions such as Indra and Brahma, and concepts in Hindu cosmology such as Mount Meru.{{rp|37–38}}


{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = 1 Hindu deity Ganesha on ceramic tile at Munnar Kerala India March 2014.jpg | width1 = 105| alt1 = | caption1 = | image2 = 2 Hindu deity Sarasvati Saraswati on ceramic tile in Munnar Kerala India March 2014.jpg | width2 = 107| alt2 = | caption2 = | footer = Left: Ganesha deity of Hinduism, Right: Saraswati, Hindu goddess of knowledge and music.}}The concept of God varies in Hinduism, it being a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism and monism among others.BOOK, Lipner, Julius, Julius J. Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2010, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 978-0-415-45677-7, 8, 2nd, (...) one need not be religious in the minimal sense described to be accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or pantheistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu., BOOK, Chakravarti, Sitansu S., Hinduism, a Way of Life, 1992, Motilal Banarsidass Publishing, Delhi, 978-81-208-0899-7, 71, 1st, {{google books, y, J_-rASTgw8wC, 71, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}In the ancient Vedic texts of Hinduism, a deity is often referred to as Deva (god) or Devi (goddess).{{rp|496}} The root of these terms mean "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence".{{rp|492}} Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras.{{rp|5–11, 22, 99–102}}{{rp|121}} Over time, those with a benevolent nature become deities and are referred to as Sura, Deva or Devi.{{rp|2–6}}BOOK, Gier, Nicholas F., Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives, 2000, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 978-0-7914-4528-0, 59–76, Devas or deities in Hindu texts differ from Greek or Roman theodicy, states Ray Billington, because many Hindu traditions believe that a human being has the potential to be reborn as a deva (or devi), by living an ethical life and building up saintly karma.BOOK, Billington, Ray, Understanding Eastern Philosophy, 2002, Routledge, 978-1-134-79348-8, 42, {{google books, y, dACFAgAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}} Such a deva enjoys heavenly bliss, till the merit runs out, and then the soul (gender neutral) is reborn again into Saṃsāra. Thus deities are henotheistic manifestations, embodiments and consequence of the virtuous, the noble, the saint-like living in many Hindu traditions.


(File:Padmavati.JPG|thumb|upright=0.6|Padmavati, a Jain guardian deity.BOOK, Titze, Kurt, Bruhn, Klaus, Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-violence, 1998, Motilal Banarsidass Publishing, Delhi, 978-81-208-1534-6, 39, 2nd, {{google books, y, loQkEIf8z5wC, 39, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}BOOK, Kelting, M. Whitney, Singing to the Jinas: Jain Laywomen, Mandal Singing, and the Negotiations of Jain Devotion, 2001, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-803211-3, 221, {{google books, y, elcn1IEJ3CEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}})Like many ancient Indian traditions, Jainism does not believe in a creator, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God; however, the cosmology of Jainism incorporates a meaningful causality-driven reality, and includes four realms of existence (gati), and one of them for deva (celestial beings, gods).{{rp|351–57}} A human being can choose and live an ethical life (karma), such as being non-violent (ahimsa) against all living beings, thereby gain merit and be reborn as deva.{{rp|357–58}}BOOK, Wiley, Kristi L., The A to Z of Jainism, 2004, Scarecrow Press, 978-0-8108-6337-8, 186, {{google books, y, cIhCCwAAQBAJ, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}Jain texts reject a trans-cosmic God, one who stands outside of the universe and lords over it, but they state that the world is full of devas who are in human-image with sensory organs, with the power of reason, conscious, compassionate and with finite life.{{rp|356–57}} Jainism believes in the existence of the soul (Self, atman) and considers it to have "god-quality", whose knowledge and liberation is the ultimate spiritual goal in both religions. Jains also believe that the spiritual nobleness of perfected souls (Jina) and devas make them worship-worthy beings, with powers of guardianship and guidance to better karma. In Jain temples or festivals, the Jinas and Devas are revered.{{rp|356–57}}BOOK, Kelting, M. Whitney, Heroic Wives Rituals, Stories and the Virtues of Jain Wifehood, 2009, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-973679-9, 44–48, {{google books, y, -txAd-dK0tEC, |accessdate=28 June 2017|language=en}}


File:Taq-e Bostan - High-relief of Ardeshir II investiture.jpg|right|thumb|Investiture of Sassanid emperor Shapur II (center) with Mithra (left) and Ahura Mazda (right) at Taq-e Bostan, IranIranAhura Mazda ({{IPAc-en|ə|ˌ|h|ʊ|r|ə|ˌ|m|æ|z|d|ə}});WEB,weblink Ahura Mazda, Merriam-Webster, 11 June 2017, is the Avestan name for the creator and sole God of Zoroastrianism.{{citation|last=Boyce|first=Mary|chapter=Ahura Mazdā|title=Encyclopaedia Iranica|location=New York|publisher=Routledge & Kegan Paul|year=1983|volume=1|pages=684–87}} The literal meaning of the word (Wikt:Ahura|Ahura) is "mighty" or "lord" and (Wikt:Mazda|Mazda) is wisdom. Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, taught that Ahura Mazda is the most powerful being in all of the existence{{citation|last=Andrea|first=Alfred|author2=James H. Overfield|title=The Human Record: Sources of Global History : To 1700|publisher=Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|year=2000|edition=Illustrated|volume=4|page=86|isbn=978-0-618-04245-6|url=}} and the only deity who is worthy of the highest veneration. Nonetheless, Ahura Mazda is not omnipotent because his evil twin brother Angra Mainyu is nearly as powerful as him. Zoroaster taught that the daevas were evil spirits created by Angra Mainyu to sow evil in the world and that all people must choose between the goodness of Ahura Mazda and the evil of Angra Mainyu. According to Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda will eventually defeat Angra Mainyu and good will triumph over evil once and for all. Ahura Mazda was the most important deity in the ancient Achaemenid Empire.{{citation|last=Bromiley|first=Geoffrey|title=The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Q-Z|year=1995|publisher=Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing|isbn=978-0-8028-3784-4|url=}} He was originally represented anthropomorphically, but, by the end of the Sasanian Empire, Zoroastrianism had become fully aniconic.

Rational interpretations

File:Lightning cloud to cloud (aka).jpg|thumb|The Greek philosopher Democritus argued that belief in deities arose when humans observed natural phenomena such as 314}}{{see also|Evolutionary origin of religions|Evolutionary psychology of religion|Neurotheology}}Attempts to rationally explain belief in deities extend all the way back to ancient Greece.{{rp|311–17}} The Greek philosopher Democritus argued that the concept of deities arose when human beings observed natural phenomena such as lightning, solar eclipses, and the changing of the seasons.{{rp|311–17}} Later, in the third century BCE, the scholar Euhemerus argued in his book Sacred History that the gods were originally flesh-and-blood mortal kings who were posthumously deified, and that religion was therefore the continuation of these kings' mortal reigns, a view now known as Euhemerism.BOOK, Winiarczyk, Marek, The "Sacred History" of Euhemerus of Messene, 2013, Zbirohowski-Kościa, Witold, Walther de Gruyter, Berlin, 978-3-11-029488-0, 27–68,weblink harv, Sigmund Freud suggested that God concepts are a projection of one's father.JOURNAL, Barrett, Justin L., Keil, Frank C., Conceptualizing a Nonnatural Entity: Anthropomorphism in God Concepts, Cognitive Psychology, December 1996, 31, 3, 219–47, 10.1006/cogp.1996.0017, 8975683,weblink 28 June 2017,, A tendency to believe in deities and other supernatural beings may be an integral part of the human consciousness.JOURNAL, Atran, Scott, Norensayan, Ara, Religion's evolutionary landscape: Counterintuition, commitment, compassion, communion, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2005, 27, 6, 713–70, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,weblink harv, 10.1017/S0140525X04000172, NEWS, Spiegel, Alex, Is Believing In God Evolutionarily Advantageous?,weblink NPR, National Public Radio, National Public Radio, Inc., 30 August 2010, harv, NEWS, Alleyne, Richard, Humans 'evolved' to believe in God: Humans may have evolved to believe in God and superstitions because it helps them co-ordinate group action better, scientists claim.,weblink The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 7 September 2009, harv, BOOK, Barrett, Justin L., Justin L. Barrett, Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief, 2012, Free Press, New York City, 978-1-4391-9657-1, 15,weblink Barrett, {{rp|2–11}} Children are naturally inclined to believe in supernatural entities such as gods, spirits, and demons, even without being indoctrinated into a particular religious tradition.{{rp|2–11}} Humans have an overactive agency detection system,BOOK, Guthrie, Stewart Elliot, Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion, Oxford University Press, 1995, 978-0-19-506901-3, {{rp|25–27}} which has a tendency to conclude that events are caused by intelligent entities, even if they really are not. This is a system which may have evolved to cope with threats to the survival of human ancestors: in the wild, a person who perceived intelligent and potentially dangerous beings everywhere was more likely to survive than a person who failed to perceive actual threats, such as wild animals or human enemies.{{rp|2–11}} Humans are also inclined to think teleologically and ascribe meaning and significance to their surroundings, a trait which may lead people to believe in a creator-deity.JOURNAL, Keleman, Deborah, The scope of teleological thinking in preschool children, Cognition, 1999, 70, 3, 241–72,weblink harv, 10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00010-4, 10384737, This may have developed as a side effect of human social intelligence, the ability to discern what other people are thinking.Stories of encounters with supernatural beings are especially likely to be retold, passed on, and embellished due to their descriptions of standard ontological categories (person, artifact, animal, plant, natural object) with counterintuitive properties (humans that are invisible, houses that remember what happened in them, etc.).WEB,weblink Functional Origins of Religious concepts, Boyer, Pascal, 19 December 2009, Pascal Boyer, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 10 October 2009, As belief in deities spread, humans may have attributed anthropomorphic thought processes to them,BOOK, Boyer, Pascal, Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, Basic Books, 2001, Pascal Boyer, 978-0-465-00695-3,weblink leading to the idea of leaving offerings to the gods and praying to them for assistance, ideas which are seen in all cultures around the world.Sociologists of religion have proposed that the personality and characteristics of deities may reflect a culture's sense of self-esteem and that a culture projects its revered values into deities and in spiritual terms. The cherished, desired or sought human personality is congruent with the personality it defines to be gods. Lonely and fearful societies tend to invent wrathful, violent, submission-seeking deities (or God), while happier and secure societies tend to invent loving, non-violent, compassionate deities. Émile Durkheim states that gods represent an extension of human social life to include supernatural beings. According to Matt Rossano, God concepts may be a means of enforcing morality and building more cooperative community groups.WEB, Rossano, Matt, Supernaturalizing Social Life: Religion and the Evolution of Human Cooperation, 2007,weblink 21 June 2009,

See also

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Further reading

  • BOOK, Baines, John, John Baines (Egyptologist), Fecundity Figures: Egyptian Personification and the Iconology of a Genre, 2001, Griffith Institute, Oxford, 978-0-900416-78-1, Reprint,

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Eastern Philosophy
History of Philosophy
M.R.M. Parrott