Theism in the broadest sense, it is the belief that there is at least one divinity. More specifically, theism is commonly a monotheistic doctrine concerning the nature of a deity and the relationship between it and the universe. In this specific sense, theism conceives God as personal, present and active in the government and organization of the world and the universe; thus describes the classical conception of God found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism. The use of the term "theism" to refer to this classic form of monotheism began during the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century to distinguish it from the then emerging deism, which held that God, although transcendent and supreme,

The term "theism" comes from the Greek theos, meaning "god". This term was first used by Ralph Cudworth. According to Cudworth's definition, they are "strictly and properly called Theists, who affirm, that a perfectly conscious understanding being, or mind, existing of itself from eternity, was the cause of all other things".

God, for historical theists, is a divinity that is not always well defined, at times of a more personal character and at times more impersonal, but in any case characterized by a will and a providence. In this sense both Voltaire (who, however, in his philosophical dictionary of him, defines "theism" what we now mean with "deism") and Rousseau as a compromise between pantheism and monotheism. The first, of God, emphasized the provident and deterministic nature, the second the goodness and the sentimental element.

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