Polytheism is the belief in or worship of more than one god. According to Oxford Reference, it is not easy to count gods, and so not always obvious whether an apparently polytheistic religion, such as Chinese Folk Religions, is really so, or whether the apparent different objects of worship are to be thought of as manifestations of a singular divinity. Polytheistic belief is usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religious sects and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God who is, in most cases, transcendent.

In religions that accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses may be representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles; they can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies). Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally; they can be in monolatrists or kathenotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity only or at certain times (respectively).

The recognition of the existence of multiple gods and goddesses does not necessarily equate to the worship of all the deities of one or more pantheons, as the believer can either worship them as a whole, or concentrate only on a specific group of deities, determined by various conditions such as the believer's occupation, tastes, personal experience, family tradition, etc. It is also possible to worship a single deity, considered supreme, without ruling out the existence of other gods. This religious position has been called henotheism, but some prefer to call it monolatry. Although the term "henotheism" is controversial, it is recognized by scholars that the worship of a single God accompanied by belief in other deities maintains the principle of polytheism.

Polytheism was the typical form of religion before the development and spread of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which enforce monotheism. It is well documented throughout history, from prehistory and the earliest records of ancient Egyptian religion and ancient Mesopotamian religion to the religions prevalent during Classical antiquity, such as ancient Greek religion and ancient Roman religion, and in ethnic religions such as Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic paganism and Native American religions. Notable polytheistic religions practiced today include Taoism, Shenism or Chinese folk religion, Japanese Shinto, Santería, most Traditional African religions, and various neopagan faiths such as Wicca.

Hinduism, while popularly held as polytheistic, cannot be exclusively categorised as such as some Hindus consider themselves to be pantheists, panentheists, henotheist, polymorphist, monotheists or monist. They are compatible with Hindu texts, since there exists no consensus of standardisation in the faith. Vedanta, the most dominant school of Hinduism, offers a combination of pantheism/panentheism and polytheism, holding that Brahman is the sole ultimate reality of the universe, yet unity with it can be reached by worshipping the innumerable deities that represent the Supreme Absolute Truth. Hindus who practice Bhakti ultimately believe in one God, who is known variously as Paramatman, Parabrahman, Bhagavan, Ishvara, and so on, that transcends all categories (e.g. both of form and formless). Even though God is one, God manifests in infinite forms to help His/Her devotees realise Him/Her, and this is not to be confused with the belief that there are multiple Gods/Goddesses; this can be referred to as Polymorphic Monotheism.

Source: Wikipedia

Polytheism does not give man any feeling of real relationship with his gods except that he imagines them to be all-controlling agencies having the power to bestow happiness or inflict pain, provided they are appropriately worshipped. But as such they do not offer any moral guidance, thus encouraging idolators to invent their own code of morality and plan a way of life based on pure expediency and opportunism. Polytheism does not provide an independent and lasting basis for the arts, sciences, philosophy, literature, politics and economics. Throughout the ages polytheism has been reinforcing atheism.
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