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Omnipotent beings and why they're completely moronic

logic philosophy omnipotent god fiction mythology

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#1
Frozenwolf150

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I was recently doing research into other works of fiction on concepts for characters in my own stories, in particular how I could go about designing, characterizing, and writing a figure who is a "god" in everything but name.  I came across some rather cringe-worthy fictional settings, and was reminded of all the old debates and discussions I've had on why Omnipotent beings are completely idiotic.

 

In particular, I looked into a number of popular anime-manga franchises that boast the most powerful fictional characters in existence.  You probably have already heard of Dragonball Z, or One Punch Man (ironically, the latter was created specifically to satirize this very phenomenon) or come across fans on the Internet who insist that these favorite characters of theirs are the most powerful fighters ever conceived, and capable of defeating and killing any opponent they come across.  Debates like this rage all over the Internet among anime and comic book fans, and quite honestly, they come across as some of the most virulently stupid audiences I've ever seen.

 

The Internet loves its versus debate topics, and my friends and I admittedly indulged in them for a while, until I realized that it's all pointless.  An author can give their characters any powers and abilities they want with the press of a key or stroke of a pen.  The power level of a particular character is meaningless if the character is flat and the story is bland and uninteresting.  For a recent example of this, look at the DC live action movies.  As a fan of DC comics myself, I'm rather irritated that they've stooped to the level of creating cheap thrills and action sequences at the expense of good character development.  The various superheroes and supervillains are the modern equivalent of a god mythos, but that doesn't mean all works including them are automatically good.  In Batman v Superman, many critics panned it, saying that because we weren't given enough time to get to know the characters as people and relate to the challenges they face, we couldn't feel any emotional investment or impact when the actual fight broke out.  And that's the problem in summation: the fighting doesn't matter at all if you don't care about the characters.

 

Unfortunately, it gets worse than the fandoms of DBZ or OPM.  There's a fairly half-assed and poorly executed manga-anime series called Demonbane that combines (a very poor understanding of) the Cthulhu mythos with the Japanese mecha genre.  The result is a concept about ridiculously OP and broken god-mechas, which fans insist can beat anyone and anything from any other fictional setting.  The highest tier entity is called Elder God Demonbane, which similar to Gurren Lagaan, towers over universes.  It's piloted by two eternal beings, and possesses all the Omni-powers (except the ones that count, which I'll get to in a minute).  In canon, it's so powerful that it blinks universes in and out of existence just by moving around, it can manipulate all realities including ones that don't yet exist, it can copy itself infinitely, it has a power for any weaknesses of its opponents, and it wields a broken sword that traps other elder gods and allows it to use their powers.  Fans of the Demonbane series insist that this is the most powerful entity ever conceived, and nothing can beat it.

 

Here's why I'm not the least bit impressed.

 

First, the story that it comes from is not a very good one, more concerned with cool concepts than with giving us characters we can care about and struggles that we sympathize with.  One of the things you learn as a writer is that characters come first.  Plot, setting, and themes are all secondary.  It's very ill-advised to start with a concept born of "rule of cool" and then sacrifice everything that makes your characters believable just so you have room to fit said concept in.

 

Second, all the fans are measuring it by its ability to destroy and kill, similar to the other characters I mentioned.  Okay, so it's said to be able to create infinite universes.  That's not as impressive as being able to create and then properly care for a single universe, let alone a single galaxy, world, or civilization.  It's more of a big dumb brute that doesn't realize what it's doing, similar to how the elder gods from the Cthulhu mythos casually consume worlds because mortals are too far beneath their notice.  It's not deliberate, so it's certainly not measured or calculated.  It's essentially the proverbial giant cosmic baby throwing a tantrum that I've used in analogies.

 

Third, you can't just say that something is beyond our comprehension and outside the realm of existence, and then attempt to measure it by tangible feats, tribal warfare dynamics, and the primitive standards of power, authority, and morality that come from tribal civilizations.  This is the mistake many people make with the Judeo-Christian God, saying he's beyond comprehension, but claiming that he's the arbiter of what are clearly flawed morals and laws of early human origin.  You know, despite what many ancient cultures believed, maybe the gods don't have any interest in engaging in dick-measuring contests, and maybe they don't have reason to compete to see who is (physically) strongest.

 

Fourth, Omni-quality beings are self-contradictory, and it seems only a few people on the Internet understand this.  Again, going back to the Judeo-Christian God.  A truly perfect being would want for nothing, it would have no desires, it would not be governed by emotions or biological drives, and it would have none of the reasons for acting that any of its fans or followers claim it does.  So an entity driven by an appetite for conflict and destruction cannot be perfect, and it would in fact have weaknesses.  That's its weakness right there.

 

As a matter of fact, this is the kind of entity that I can see the titular Doctor from Doctor Who easily outsmarting and convincing to stand down, just by talking to it.

 

I've noticed that when it comes to these all-powerful characters from stories, anime, and comic books, nowhere is it ever stated that they are all-knowing.  They certainly don't act like it.  Nor are any of them characterized as Omni-benevolent.  That's probably the most difficult thing for a god to be, and the most difficult kind of character to write.  Superheroes like Superman come pretty close, as contrary to popular belief, he was actually conceived to be an embodiment of morals, decency, and kindness; as opposed to an all powerful godlike being who battles against supervillains.  Stories that use his character well are quite rare, since he's one of the hardest fictional characters to write for, and Zack Snyder clearly has no clue what he's doing.  Superman was supposed to be a champion of the poor and oppressed, who stands up for ordinary people, helps out the community, and saves people from danger.  He was never meant to be a warrior who goes around challenging other powerful beings to fights just to prove who's stronger.

 

 

It appears to me that many writers who attempt to create modern myths are still trapped in the same circular way of thinking as the ancient cultures that gave us the stories which, if taken literally, are quite stupid today.  The God of the Bible does not make a lick of sense, collapses under its own contradictions, and was pretty much amounts to just another fictional character who was created by someone with the mindset of a 5-year old.  "My God can beat up your god!  Oh yeah?  Well, my God can destroy a planet!  My God can destroy a universe!  My God can destroy a million universes!"

 

Enough already.  It's time for fiction writers to grow the fuck up.  Come up with something more original.  What about a god who cares more about helping people live better lives instead of fighting other gods for supremacy?  What about an all powerful being who is depicted, not as menacing or imposing, but as approachable and lovable?  What about an entity who self-identifies not as a monarch, but as a humble researcher seeking out the truth of existence?  What about a godlike being who considers mortals to be more powerful, because they can create or ignore gods as they please?

 

How would you write an all powerful character of your own, and what would they be like?


After people protested, Trump made some changes to his Stop and Frisk policy. Unfortunately it now involves being stabbed to death by a child with a plastic knife.


#2
Joe Bloe

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Fourth, Omni-quality beings are self-contradictory, and it seems only a few people on the Internet understand this.  Again, going back to the Judeo-Christian God.  A truly perfect being would want for nothing, it would have no desires, it would not be governed by emotions or biological drives, and it would have none of the reasons for acting that any of its fans or followers claim it does.  So an entity driven by an appetite for conflict and destruction cannot be perfect, and it would in fact have weaknesses.  That's its weakness right there.

Good point.

 

 

 

How would you write an all powerful character of your own, and what would they be like?

 

I have a problem about stories involving all-powerful characters: Even before I start reading the story I already know that the all-powerful character will get exactly what he or she wants when he or she needs it. I might wonder how the character will escape the dilemma, but I always know that the character will escape.

 

So I don't know how I'd do it, but MY all-powerful character would come a huge gutser in the last chapter; everything would go wrong and ... (that's as far as I've got).


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#3
Frozenwolf150

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I have a problem about stories involving all-powerful characters: Even before I start reading the story I already know that the all-powerful character will get exactly what he or she wants when he or she needs it. I might wonder how the character will escape the dilemma, but I always know that the character will escape.

 

So I don't know how I'd do it, but MY all-powerful character would come a huge gutser in the last chapter; everything would go wrong and ... (that's as far as I've got).

It actually comes down to the simple question, for what legitimate reason would you need to make your character all powerful?  The answer most people would give, including comic fans, anime fans, and fanfiction writers, is that their character needs to be that powerful to take on strong enemies.  This is the same primitive mindset I was talking about, and the one many religions are based on, that excessive power is necessary to fight enemies and defeat villains.  If you're up against a god you believe is evil, then your god needs to be even stronger to be able to slay the evil god.  Countless stories have been based on this trope.

 

I however have a very different answer, which is that the only reason a character needs to be all powerful is if they do NOT believe in violence or killing as the solution to every problem.  This answer came to me when I was analyzing comic book history and why Siegel and Shuster made Superman the way he is.  A lot of detractors criticize the character by saying he's overpowered, or he's goody-goody.  However, they fail to see the relation.  Humans often have no choice but to resort to violence and killing because we don't have the power to save everyone or to resolve every crisis in an ideal way.

 

As you probably know, Superman's moral code is that he absolutely refuses to kill.  (The few times he has, it had a severe impact on him psychologically.)  It would be very easy for him to kill, but that's not the point.  If you were trying to create a character capable of saving as many lives as possible, including the lives of the criminals and villains so that they can be brought to justice, then he or she would need to have all those powers.  Strong enough to stop natural disasters and catch heavy objects.  Tough enough to withstand bullets, bombs, and anything else that would harm innocent victims.  Fast enough to move people out of harm's way or take away the weapons of violent criminals.  And most importantly, moral enough to make the lives of the people their top priority, more so than beating up the villain, and more so than even the hero's own life.  Far too many people see a super powerful character and think, hey, I wonder if he's strong enough to kill these other powerful characters X, Y, or Z.  They are missing the point completely.

 

This brings me back to a point I remember reading about when I first started researching skeptical analyses of major religions.  Any God or any being who has no choice but to resort to violence and killing cannot be all powerful.  If it's within a god's capabilities to resolve a situation in countless other ways, then there's no need to take people's lives at all.  Yet the Bible constantly frames its stories of bloodshed in a context where God had no other options available, as if he's only as powerful as a tribal war chieftain who is fearful for his own life.  Killing is the last thing that someone with godlike power should do, and it does not take much effort to think of better solutions.  Why not create an abundance of resources so that people no longer have to fight over land?  Why not take people aside and educate them on the error of their ways, and then move them to a distant location until they learn their lesson?  Why not give the people the knowledge and technology they need to build a sustainable civilization so that poverty, unrest, and crime are minimized?  Why not eradicate disease and prevent natural disasters, or give the people the means to do so themselves?

 

There are a lot of good things one could do with godlike power, and killing other powerful beings is not one of them.


Edited by Frozenwolf150, 18 April 2017 - 10:50 AM.

After people protested, Trump made some changes to his Stop and Frisk policy. Unfortunately it now involves being stabbed to death by a child with a plastic knife.


#4
jonathanlobl

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There is a major weakness in the god being "all knowing."  That god would know everything it will ever do.  Or Think.   If it makes a change, it would know in advance that it would make that change -- so it's not a true change.

 

So God knows everything that God will ever do -- or think -- and no change is possible.

 

Good by free will.  God has no free will and can't have free will.  Is that the same as having a "plan"?  

 

We also see that being "all knowing" conflicts with being "all powerful".  An all powerful god can make a change.

 

Throw in being Omni-Present...........


Edited by jonathanlobl, 01 May 2017 - 05:54 AM.

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#5
Frozenwolf150

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There is a major weakness in the god being "all knowing."  That god would know everything it will ever do.  Or Think.   If it makes a change, it would know in advance that it would make that change -- so it's not a true change.

 

So God knows everything that God will ever do -- or think -- and no change is possible.

 

Good by free will.  God has no free will and can't have free will.  Is that the same as having a "plan"?  

 

We also see that being "all knowing" conflicts with being "all powerful".  An all powerful god can make a change.

 

Throw in being Omni-Present...........

Yes, there's a distinct difference between a deity knowing more than the people who believe in it, and a deity being all-knowing.  The same goes for a deity being more capable than mortals, versus a deity who is literally all-powerful.  That's how stories and myths evolve, in that the tale grows with the telling.  Religious myths that may have been based on real life occurrences are really just big fish stories.  Exaggeration is not only encouraged, but also inevitable, since human cultures have always competed to see who has the most dominant mythical narrative.


After people protested, Trump made some changes to his Stop and Frisk policy. Unfortunately it now involves being stabbed to death by a child with a plastic knife.


#6
jonathanlobl

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Yes, there's a distinct difference between a deity knowing more than the people who believe in it, and a deity being all-knowing.  The same goes for a deity being more capable than mortals, versus a deity who is literally all-powerful.  That's how stories and myths evolve, in that the tale grows with the telling.  Religious myths that may have been based on real life occurrences are really just big fish stories.  Exaggeration is not only encouraged,  but also inevitable, since human cultures have always competed to see who has the most dominant mythical narrative.

 

I find that when we take a simple thought, like being all powerful, or all knowing, or all good, and just develop it to it's logical conclusion -- we end up with absurdity.  Something so foolish that it's reduced to silliness.  Then, we are expected to debate the existence of the entity that has these attributes and keep a straight face while doing so.  I can't.  I can't take this foolish crap seriously long enough to debate it.

 

Then the true believer says -- prove to me that God does not exist.  A true WTF moment.  It's so much worse than proving that Unicorns don't exist.  Seriously, a unicorn could exist, despite the fact that no one has ever produced one.  How could God exist?

 

Returning to your observations -- God also has the biggest penis of all.  Such is the nature of the ultimate patriarchal projection.  Maybe, this is why God is the biggest Dick in all of fantasy literature.  


Edited by jonathanlobl, 05 May 2017 - 10:33 PM.

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#7
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If there was an entity like the God of Abraham that had the properties of invisibility, zero mass, no location, and otherwise completely unobservable, then such a being could never be known, partially because the description of its attributes can only be satisfied by non-existence.

 

In other words, you can invent something nobody can touch, feel, see, hear, or otherwise sense directly or by its effects - while still being self-aware,.  The difficulty is you have invented something that can not exist.


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#8
jonathanlobl

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If there was an entity like the God of Abraham that had the properties of invisibility, zero mass, no location, and otherwise completely unobservable, then such a being could never be known, partially because the description of its attributes can only be satisfied by non-existence.

 

In other words, you can invent something nobody can touch, feel, see, hear, or otherwise sense directly or by its effects - while still being self-aware,.  The difficulty is you have invented something that can not exist.

 

If something does not exist -- the sale of that item would constitute criminal fraud.  It would mean that the churches are engaged in criminal fraud activities.  Oh -- wait ---.  They are.


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#9
Frozenwolf150

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If there was an entity like the God of Abraham that had the properties of invisibility, zero mass, no location, and otherwise completely unobservable, then such a being could never be known, partially because the description of its attributes can only be satisfied by non-existence.

 

In other words, you can invent something nobody can touch, feel, see, hear, or otherwise sense directly or by its effects - while still being self-aware,.  The difficulty is you have invented something that can not exist.

This is the very reason why I said previously that even in a work of fiction about gods, and the conflicts and interpersonal dramas going on between them, I would characterize them as being less powerful than the mortals who created them.  Gods may create universes, but only mortals can create gods.

 

This, incidentally, is the answer to the philosophical question of infinite regression that religious apologists come up with the most ridiculous mental gymnastics to explain away.  "If God created the universe, who created God?"  The answer is, human beings did.  This is the answer they will twist themselves in circles to avoid having to admit.


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After people protested, Trump made some changes to his Stop and Frisk policy. Unfortunately it now involves being stabbed to death by a child with a plastic knife.


#10
jonathanlobl

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This is the very reason why I said previously that even in a work of fiction about gods, and the conflicts and interpersonal dramas going on between them, I would characterize them as being less powerful than the mortals who created them.  Gods may create universes, but only mortals can create gods.

 

This, incidentally, is the answer to the philosophical question of infinite regression that religious apologists come up with the most ridiculous mental gymnastics to explain away.  "If God created the universe, who created God?"  The answer is, human beings did.  This is the answer they will twist themselves in circles to avoid having to admit.

 

 

It is a strange human tendency to create a god through personification.  The Statue of Liberty is a case in point.  We have only to install an altar and a priesthood -- and we can literally worship at Liberty's feet.  

 

Actually, we are halfway there.  The Park Service rangers do function as a priest hood -- and the American military does mayhem in Liberty's name.  It is a respectable body count.  That makes it a real religion.


Edited by jonathanlobl, 06 May 2017 - 09:03 PM.

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#11
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 The answer is, human beings did.  This is the answer they will twist themselves in circles to avoid having to admit.

 

Seems like that is the keystone of their house of cards, safely below ground level where it can't be seen.  Of course there is a pat answer waiting in the wings "The reason <null> seems so much like humans is because <null> created us in His image."

 

With so many centuries to work out the details a modern Christian's sacred delusion is well defended with trite tautologies, logical fallacies and malicious Bible quotes ready to be dispensed in an instant.


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#12
jonathanlobl

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Seems like that is the keystone of their house of cards, safely below ground level where it can't be seen.  Of course there is a pat answer waiting in the wings "The reason <null> seems so much like humans is because <null> created us in His image."

 

With so many centuries to work out the details a modern Christian's sacred delusion is well defended with trite tautologies, logical fallacies and malicious Bible quotes ready to be dispensed in an instant.

 

 

If we were created in God's image; wouldn't we be invisible?


Minister, Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (02/20/2002)
"We don't know and we don't care."

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#13
Ungodly

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If we were created in God's image; wouldn't we be invisible?

 

Yes, and we would kill everybody that pissed us off, maybe their entire city.   Wait, we are like that :(


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