Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet’

No god is perfect

I am an all-powerful being.

I write stories.  And in the worlds that I create, I am all powerful.  I can make planets, galaxies, universes unending.  I can bring forth, instantly, civilizations of staggering complexity.  I can create people as detailed as you like…fully-realized beings with thoughts as rich and varied as I can imagine.

I can destroy, too: I can, with a word, annihilate the world.  I can sweep away the minds of trillions of sentient beings, without so much as a moment’s hesitation.  To the worlds I create, I am a god.

Of course, in this world, I am flawed.  I can’t even fix a toaster.

Now, suppose there is a god that created this universe.  Suppose he is all-powerful, to us: suppose he can create or destroy with limitless power.  That does not mean he is all-powerful in the universe that he inhabits.

The logic is like this:

  1. Either a god exists wholly within the known, natural universe, or he does not.
  2. If he does, then he’s a natural being and bound by the laws of our universe. He’s therefore not all-powerful, since he cannot violate conservation of momentum, or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, or what have you.
  3. If he does not exist wholly within the known, natural universe, then he’s supernatural.
  4. A supernatural god inhabits a higher-level universe than our own.
  5. A supernatural god may very well be all powerful with respect to a lower-level world or universe, in the way that I am all-powerful with respect to a novel I write.
  6. Be that as it may, there’s no reason or justification to think that such a god is all-powerful in the world-level in which he resides.

Another analogy may help.  It is known that Conway’s game of Life is Turing complete.  Therefore, given a sufficiently large Life grid (running on a sufficiently large computer) and given a sufficiently long time, sentience would most assuredly evolve in such a game.  But, even if it didn’t, given enough time and patience we could (existing, as we do, “outside” this Life universe) create Life structures that can think.  For example, we could “just” program all the pixels in our Life grid with ones and zeroes in such a way that the Life structures were isomorphic to our own brains, perhaps.  (Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy.)  Does that mean we’re smart?  Perhaps.  Does that make us perfect?  Fuck no.

To say that a god is all-powerful just because he is all-powerful to us makes as much sense as saying that Shakespeare is all-powerful because he’s all-powerful to Hamlet.  Hey Hamlet: your god ain’t a loving god, you don’t have free will, and god doesn’t have your back.

That “undiscovered country” is just the bargain bin at Barnes and Nobles.

I’m tired of people ascribing properties to higher-level supernatural beings of which, by definition, nothing can be known.  There’s no conceivable way that Hamlet could know anything at all about Shakespeare.  Similarly, even if there were a god or gods existing outside of our universe, there’s no way we could know anything about them.  At all.  Maybe some supreme benevolent being exists, sure.  Or maybe there’s instead an omnimalevolent creator.  Or maybe there’s just some lobster-eating sadist who kills people with tiny forks.  Who knows?

You certainly don’t.




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