This article is about the concept of a supreme "God" in the context of monotheism. For the general concept of a being superior to humans that is worshiped as "a god", see Deity. For God in specific religions, see Conceptions of God. For other uses, see God (disambiguation).
Many religions use images to "represent" God in icons for art or for worship. Here are examples of representations of God in different monotheistic religions. Clockwise from upper left: Christianity, Kaumaram, Vaishnavism, Shaktism
Some religions describe God without reference to gender, while others and their translations use masculine terminology, using such terms as "Him" or "Father," and some religions (such as Judaism) attribute only a purely grammatical "gender" to God.
God has been conceived as either personal or impersonal. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism, God is the creator, but not the sustainer, of the universe. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. In atheism, there is an absence of belief in God. In agnosticism, the existence of God is deemed unknown or unknowable. God has also been conceived as the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". Many notable philosophers have developed arguments for and against the existence of God.
Monotheists refer to their gods using names prescribed by their respective religions, with some of these names referring to certain cultural ideas about their god's identity and attributes. In the ancient Egyptian era of Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion, this deity was called Aten, premised on being the one "true" Supreme Being and creator of the universe. In the Hebrew Bible and Judaism, "The Existing One", "I Am that I Am" and its initials, the tetragrammaton YHWH (Hebrew: יהוה, "I am who I am") are used as names of God. Yahweh and Jehovah are used in Christianity as vocalizations of YHWH. In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, God, coexisting in three "persons", is called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Hebrew Tanakh, God is referred to as Elohim or Adonai, in addition to other names. In Islam, the name Allah is used, while Muslims also have a multitude of titular names for God.
The many different conceptions of God, and competing claims as to God's characteristics, aims, and actions, have led to the development of ideas of omnitheism, pandeism, or a perennial philosophy, which postulates that there is one underlying theological truth, of which all religions express a partial understanding, and as to which "the devout in the various great world religions are in fact worshipping that one God, but through different, overlapping concepts". Psychoanalyst Carl Jung equated God and religion with aspects of consciousness in his interpretation.
In the English language, capitalization is used for names by which a god is known, including 'God'. Consequently, the capitalized form of god is not used for multiple gods (polytheism) or when used to refer to the generic idea of a deity.
The English word God and its counterparts in other languages are normally used for any and all conceptions and, in spite of significant differences between religions, the term remains an English translation common to all. The same holds for Hebrew El, but in Judaism, God is also given a proper name, the tetragrammaton YHWH, in origin possibly the name of an Edomite or Midianite deity, Yahweh.
In many translations of the Bible, when the word LORD is in all capitals, it signifies that the word represents the tetragrammaton.
Ahura Mazda is the name for God used in Zoroastrianism. "Mazda", or rather the Avestan stem-form Mazdā-, nominative Mazdå, reflects Proto-Iranian *Mazdāh (female). It is generally taken to be the proper name of the spirit, and like its Sanskrit cognate medhā, means "intelligence" or "wisdom". Both the Avestan and Sanskrit words reflect Proto-Indo-Iranian*mazdhā-, from Proto-Indo-European mn̩sdʰeh1, literally meaning "placing (dʰeh1) one's mind (*mn̩-s)", hence "wise".
Waheguru (Punjabi: vāhigurū) is a term most often used in Sikhism to refer to God. It means "Wonderful Teacher" in the Punjabi language. Vāhi (a Middle Persian borrowing) means "wonderful" and guru (Sanskrit: guru) is a term denoting "teacher". Waheguru is also described by some as an experience of ecstasy which is beyond all descriptions. The most common usage of the word "Waheguru" is in the greeting Sikhs use with each other:
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Wonderful Lord's Khalsa, Victory is to the Wonderful Lord.
Baha, the "greatest" name for God in the Baha'i faith, is Arabic for "All-Glorious".