Q:

What are some examples of polytheistic religions?

A:

Polytheistic religions include Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, tribal religions in the Americas and Africa and modern neopaganism. With the exception of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, most world religions are characterized by polytheism.

Polytheism is the belief in and worship of multiple deities. These gods and goddesses usually exist as part of a larger group of gods called a pantheon. The gods often serve specific functions and have control over some aspect of reality, and can represent certain facets of natural forces or of humanity. Believers do not have to worship all gods equally. Polytheistic religions are dominant today, and have been so historically as well. Most religions during the Bronze and Iron Age were polytheistic.

There is a distinction between hard and soft polytheism. Hard polytheism is the idea that gods are distinct and real divine beings. They are not personifications of nature nor separate aspects of one supreme god. Soft polytheism follows the belief of Universalism, which holds that all gods are aspects of a supreme god or a greater force. It also allows for the gods to be viewed as representations of natural forces or of the human psyche.

Polytheism is contrasted with monotheism, the belief is a single deity.


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