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Belief in the existence of one god. It is distinguished from polytheism. The earliest known instance of monotheism dates to the reign of Akhenaton of Egypt in the 14th century BC. Monotheism is characteristic of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which view God as the creator of the world, who oversees and intervenes in human events, and as a beneficent and holy being, the source of the highest good. The monotheism that characterizes Judaism began in ancient Israel with the adoption of Yahweh as the single object of worship and the rejection of the gods of other tribes and nations without, initially, denying their existence. Islam is clear in confessing one, eternal, unbegotten, unequaled God, while Christianity holds that a single God is reflected in the three persons of the Holy Trinity.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on monotheism, visit Britannica.com.