I might be wrong about some definitions, but to give some examples:

  • Some people beleive that God does not exist (atheists)
  • While some say they don't know about it (Agnostics)
  • Yet others say God exists
    • Part of them say God has created the wolrd and has left it (deism)
    • But others say he's around (theism)
      • And he's not alone (pantheon)
        • then only worship him (monolatary)
        • or only beleive in him (henotheism)
      • Or he is alone (monotheism)

Is there a comprehensive list of philosophical categories regarding God like the example I gave above?

  • 2
    It is a fundamental nature of ideas that they are basically infinitely amendable. This is not limited to God ideas, but is a general principle. So any comprehensive list of what people have come up with as God hypotheses, could then face an exception in the next instant, when yet another variant conception is proposed.
    – Dcleve
    Jan 9, 2023 at 17:32
  • 2
    I disagree. It's limited, because possibilities are limited. For example; cardinality. Either there is zero God, or one God, or more than one Gods. We can't have negative Gods. Jan 9, 2023 at 17:58
  • Judaic texts have other divine entitles besides one God, but no humans with special status. Same with Muslim vs other divine entities, but with several humans having "special" status. Christian theology has a three aspect God, with one human being part of God. Sikh theology says that it is a mistake to think of ANYTHING as not part of God. This is 4 variants on monotheism, and they are different hypotheses. They disagree on what is meant by "there is one God". The number of additional variants and therefore different hypotheses is infinite.
    – Dcleve
    Jan 9, 2023 at 18:27
  • It seems to me that you would need to make some subjective decisions to define what kinds of theological ideas are too concrete to be included. Just to pick a few examples that come to mind.... Animism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Trinitarianism... which of those four terms should be included or excluded from this list and why? I don't think there is a single objective all-inclusive typology that religious scholars agree on.
    – Brian Z
    Jan 9, 2023 at 19:31
  • 1
    @AgentSmith, but negative I did not mean bad. I meant negative numbers. We can't have -2 Gods. Jan 11, 2023 at 2:37

3 Answers 3


Following Onora O'Neill's lead in "Kant on Reason and Religion", you could form this list of attitudes/viewpoints:

  1. Hope in the possibility of God ("I hope that God is possible").
  2. Hope in the actuality of God ("I hope that God is real").
  3. Belief in the possibility of God.
  4. Belief in the actuality of God.
  5. Knowledge (claimed) that God is possible.
  6. Knowledge (claimed) that God is actual.

There's also transtheism to consider, which might situate a Platonic metanarrative about a Form of the Good as the instructor of a Demiurge, say. A latter-day syncretist, John Hicks, speaks of something he denotes by "the Real" in arguably transtheistic terms/for a transtheistic reason.

At any rate, you can then multiply the first six options at least by two to factor in polytheistic options. Although deism and theism are famously distinguished, the abstract basis for their distinction is not the strongest dividing line in the universe (issues arise with demarcating creation from conservation, for example).

If you're aiming for an a priori tabulation of theological descriptions/relations as such, it'll be hard to come up with a plausible target number to check your lists against. For example, suppose you start out with the distinction between creation-from-nothingness, creation-by-emanation, and creation-from-prime-matter. Suppose you also distinguish being uncreated from being uncreatable, and destructible from indestructible, and try to juxtapose all permutations of these factors in constructing your table. I posted just the question of such a table to the Worldbuilding SE quite a while ago, and I don't think anyone came up with a mathematically resolute answer (actually, they closed the question because I had the title as, "How many levels of..." instead of, "How many categories of..." and they thought "levels of divinity" implied subjective assessments of divine glory).

Addendum. Other variables:

  1. Is God metaphysically simple?
  2. Is God unchangeable? Similar, but not identical, to the question of whether God is impassable (e.g., God could be changeable, but only by Its own power; or God could be unchanging, but stand in relations of eternal reactivity to other beings).
  3. Is God good, or perhaps evil (possible overlap/equivalence with misotheism or dystheism)?
  4. Are human assertions about God directly true, analogically true, or true only when sufficiently negative (in the abstract, not the emotional, sense of negativity or absence)?

This list of four such questions is not complete, mind you, for we also could consider versions of theism that turn on believing in God for intuitive reasons (e.g. Calvinism's sensus divinitatis) vs. a more Biblical kind of reason (the Bible says that natural theology is enough to prove God's existence, that we can infer the Creator from the nature of the creation), and then if arguments are appealed to, there are theistical distinctions between ontological, cosmological, and teleological derivations (and between descriptive vs. prescriptive reasoning for belief or faith in God). And I faintly recall that there are even more other such questions besides (my personal favorite: is the universal transet the divine intellect, or is it a gigantic, lifeless "container"?).


Keeping it as simple as I understand it

  1. Definitionally, God is a being separate from the universe, having created it (theism) OR God is the universe (pantheism). There are spinoffs of this basic theme.

  2. Ontologically, God exists or God doesn't exist.

  3. Epistemologically, God exists (theism), God doesn't exist (atheism), We don't know/god may or may not exist (agnosticism)

  4. Numerically, many gods (polytheism), two gods (duotheism, e.g. Zoroastrianism's Angra mainyu and Ahura mazda), one god (monotheism e.g. the Abrahamic Triad), 0 gods (atheism)

  5. Ethically, God is good (theism in general), God is not wholly good is bad (dystheism)

  6. Desirability, god is desirable (theism in general), god is undesirable (misotheism)

That's all I could manage, off the top of my head. Apologies if it fall short of the mark.

  • 1
    This was a nice list. Thank you. Jan 11, 2023 at 2:36

I found it. If you visit Wikipedia's article about Theism, on the right side you can see a box saying Part of a series on Theism. There you can see a good list, and you can traverse that web of concepts and categories.

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