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?