There are and were many theistic religions. In most if not all of them there is some kind of worship. However, as far as I am aware theism only means a belief in some kind of unworldly beings who intervene in our world.

This is actually what I believe: there are beings, some of them I like, some I don't, some I actually oppose, but I never worship them nor anyone else. Oh, and I don't believe there is a lord. To me anyone who calls self such is just a narcissist, even belonging to those unworldly beings.

So, can I be called a theist then? Is the belief that there are other beings outside of our world who intentionally affect it theism? Even further, is the belief that we are in simulation and there are beings who are like us who simulated this world theism? Or where is the border drawn?

In particular an answer may (and I even think it's better for it to) refer to philosophical theism.

  • What exactly is unclear? The question in the title is clear. "Is a mere belief that there are other beings affecting our world from the outside (without worship) theism?" is an elaboration.
    – rus9384
    Oct 26, 2018 at 6:44
  • Theism is the worship of God."As I was reading your question, I was getting more perplexed as your title especially says imply* , *worship". Btt I am the one who chose to select yours as closed. I was getting confused more and more as I read your line. This goddamn God thins always agonizes me.
    – user13955
    Oct 26, 2018 at 7:00
  • There is a Wikipedia article on philosophical theism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_theism I see it as a range of beliefs going from no agency whatsoever (extreme atheism, naturalism) to those who are in love with their God(s), that is, in some personal relationship or worship of them (Muslims, Christians, Hindus). There would be no need to worship our simulators, but those simulators would be agents with enough free will to turn on the simulation. An extreme atheist should not believe in them. Oct 26, 2018 at 7:01
  • @KentaroTomono I voted to keep it open when it appeared in the review queues. I am hoping to see some good answers. Something to surprise me with references. Oct 26, 2018 at 7:04
  • 1
    I'm thinking that if you don't feel them worthy of praise and worship, defined as the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity, then they're just beings to you, not gods. So I personally wouldn't call you a theist. You may however feel some sort of shamanic or social connection to them, perhaps thinking of them as your guides, allies, or associates.
    – Bread
    Oct 26, 2018 at 11:04

5 Answers 5


Consider the question expressed in the title: *Does theism imply worship?"

The answer depends on how one defines "theism" and "worship". If a mere rational acceptance of the existence of a God is called "theism" and if that is all that is needed for "worship", then theism does imply worship and the answer would be yes. However, if worship requires more than a rational acceptance of the existence of a God, then the answer would be no.

Wikipedia describes "worship" as the following:

Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader.

The word is derived from the Old English weorþscipe, meaning worship, honour shown to an object, which has been etymologised as "worthiness or worth-ship"—to give, at its simplest, worth to something.

This description is broad enough to include mere rational acceptance since acknowledging existence could be considered acknowledging the "worth" of something.

To try to find some forms of theism that might not involve worship one might look at those who profess a form of "philosophical theism".

Wikipedia describes philosophical theism as follows:

Philosophical theism is the belief that a deity exists (or must exist) independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. It represents belief in a personal God entirely without doctrine. Some philosophical theists are persuaded of a god's existence by philosophical arguments, while others consider themselves to have a religious faith that need not be, or could not be, supported by rational argument.

For some of them, such as Christiaan Huygens listed among the notable philosophical theists, science or rationality itself may be viewed as a kind of worship:

Christiaan Huygens (1629 – 1695) was a prominent Dutch mathematician and scientist. Huygens was first to formulate what is now known as the second of Newton's laws of motion in a quadratic form. He regarded science as a form of “Worship”, that is, one can serve God by studying and admiring his works: "And we shall worship and reverence that God the Maker of all these things; we shall admire and adore his Providence and wonderful Wisdom which is displayed and manifested all over the Universe, to the confusion of those who would have the Earth and all things formed by the shuffling Concourse of Atoms, or to be without beginning."

One might try to separate theism from worship by describing theism as an indifferent rational acknowledgement of God while describing worship as a more committed and personal acknowledgement of God. However, given a broader view of the idea of worship as "worth"-ship, one could also argue that just rationally acknowledging the existence of God is a form of worship.


Wikipedia, "Philosophical theism" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_theism

Wikipedia, "Worship" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worship


At its conceptual minimum, theism involves belief in the existence of God or of gods, X. It is logically possible not to worship any such being or beings whatever sort of putative being or beings we are talking about and whatever the divine attributes are - or are to be taken to be. If worship is a matter of reverence, adoration or homage, then no divine attribute is or could be such that to recognise that X possesses that attribute is necessarily to worship X. 'X possesses attribute φ and I do not worship X' is never self-contradictory for any value of φ.


It is difficult to find references that address this question. There are many philosophers, both Eastern and Western, that have written from some kind of theistic perspective. Problem is, it is from within a particular theistic tradition. The godly nature of an entity is always taken for granted.

And to make everything even more perplexing: "worship" is more properly associated with Religion, being a ritualistic activity. Many worshipers are active in church without actually believing in a god. Still this doesn't preclude those who truly believe in a god, worship it in their own manner, but actively avoid religious practices. Furthermore there a believers who don't think that God meddles in human affairs; perception of unworldly phenomena is not necessary for faith. (in fact my belief in free will would be seriously challenged by any undeniably miraculous event.)

If your belief is that you are in a simulation, then any event can be explained as actions by the Simulators. Whether or not you believe they are Gods and/or worship them would be entirely up to you. Once again this doesn't preclude you from believing there is a God 'above' the Simulators.

Should be obvious by now that "belief" and subjective language are overly used. But in questions involving "God", even the definitions of terms are personal and highly subjective. In the end you believe what you want to, you decide whether you are theist or not.

Unsatisfying answers like this, and the difficulties it highlights, are why most philosophers don't attempt such questions.

  • I distinguish between theism and religion, because: a) There are atheistic religions (or branches of them) within Buddhism, for example. b) Philosophical theism does not presuppose religion, I guess. However, I guess that even a belief there is a material (from our world and can be seen by eyes, heard by ears, etc.) entity who is god also can be called theism. Maybe all this stuff is just a pun, people just play with words "god", "worship", "theism", etc.
    – rus9384
    Oct 26, 2018 at 8:31
  • @rus9384 Even worse, there is profit and power in the game. Religion is big business and few people really think about their own beliefs.
    – christo183
    Oct 26, 2018 at 8:50

I'm surprised no one has pointed this out yet, but what about Satanism? You acknowledge the existence of God but then worship the devil. It's been done for centuries.



Does theism imply worship?

Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader.

So it means a religious worship.

A religion and SPIRITUALITY are different.

The purpose of any religion is to show direction towards spirituality.

And, the spiritual practices make a human being realise, not understand, the God within oneself.

Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Saakteism, etc, are religions, being practiced by people under the name of Hinduism aka Sanaatana Dharma. However, Sanaatana Dharma is different.

Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, etc, are Religions.

A religion contains a Holy text, certain customs/rituals to be followed, viz, fasting at certain periods, praying the God at prescribed intervals, offering food/sanctifying, etc.

A religion is like a guidepost, which shows direction in which a particular lane/place is situated. The guidepost will not move alongwith the traveler. The traveler has to move along the direction, make enquiries and finally reach the destination.

The purpose of any religion is to inculcate a belief in the God, a self discipline by following certain customs. And, after gaining enough maturity, one has to discard the religion and move on to spirituality for realising the God, with the help of an accomplished Guru.

The Guru may be in human form or may be some invisible force.

We have to understand that spirituality has no affiliation to any religion.

All religions insisting of prayers to God at certain intervals, reading of respective Holy text, following respective customs. Naturally, majority of the people following any religion, after offering prayers to God at certain intervals, reading of respective Holy text, following respective customs for certain period, they are hitting a DEAD END.

What next?

All religions are like service roads and the SPIRITUALITY is like a highway to the God. Religious practices should connect humans finally to SPIRITUALITY.

This spirituality, the gift to the mankind, has been beckoning the human beings following different religions/faiths, to follow and realise the God within oneself.

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