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God

universe religion nature existence

God, in religion, term for the “supreme being.” In polytheistic systems, one god is generally regarded as the ruler of the others. The Hindu pantheon reflects this hierarchy by regarding Brahman as the supreme being, although other gods are worshiped as aspects of his being. True monotheism emerged in the religion of the Hebrews, whose one God, Yahweh, is a personal being with whom the Hebrews established a covenant. The Christian concept of God is based on the Hebrew tradition, expanded to include the doctrines of the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the Trinity of 3 persons in 1 God. Another monotheistic religion, Islam, worships Allah. The major religions of the Far East—Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, and Confucianism—are philosophical, moral, and contemplative, but they are not essentially monotheistic. The principal arguments developed in the West to prove the existence of God are the ontological, put forth by Anselm of Canterbury, that the idea of a perfect being necessitates the existence of that being; the cosmological, best stated by Thomas Aquinas, arguing there must be a First Cause; the teleological, that the order of the universe indicates an orderer; and the moral, enunciated by Immanuel Kant, based on humanity's inherently moral nature. Another school of thought holds that God is revealed directly through mystical experience. Philosophers have often conceived of God as a transcendent and impersonal being that shows itself in the world and the universe but creates no personal relationship with people. The pantheists believe that God is the sum of the universe and that all things, including humanity, are part of God. Deists see God expressed in the rational pattern of the universe but withdrawn from the events of the world. Both the industrial and scientific revolutions have had far-reaching effects on the nature of belief in God. For many people, materialism and skepticism have replaced the earlier certainty of religion. Considerable numbers of people are agnostic (neither believing nor disbelieving in the existence of God), with a smaller group professing to be atheist. The old opposition of science and faith has lessened, as science has uncovered more mystery in the universe and religion has shown itself less dogmatic about the nature of the objective world.

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