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Questions Gods of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and What can gods be afraid of? together with Robert Merle's book Le propre de l'homme (I beg your pardon, I did not find English name) brought me to following question:

What is exclusive property of god?

Immortality: No. Their lives may be tied to worshippers or at least being of world where they live. Else they are probably only advanced aliens. And also, there are some nations that are not dying for age (but that can be killed like anybody else).

Wisdom: Probably no. There may be some nations that are very poor-minded (but still able to live) and in comparison with them they (gods) have great knowledge. And also there may be nations (mostly long-living or immortal by age) with great wisdom. Also, like below, gods from one story may be equal to humans from else story - in wisdom.

Power: No. It is sure that gods are very powerful, but also their power may be very limited - for example by amount of worshippers, or else rules. Or also, there may be some people that find (mostly accidentally) ways how to handle great powers (even capable to destroy whole world). It is very based on own story - god in one story may be very powerful, but in comparison with humans (or else lower creatures) may be very weak.

Language: No. There are many nations using many languages - and they don't understand each other. Also, even animals have own language - that we don't understand.

Feelings: No. As they created humans as image of ownself - and humans created some gods as their images, it is irelevant to count feelings as it. Gods may love or hate each other - or they hate or love mortals.

War: Probably no. At least, because I don't know any story where gods would fight against each other. Only people fight in the name of any gods against other.

(Species) self-destruction: No. Probably only people are capable to fight against else people to kill them - until (species) self-dustruction.


... It is all I found at this time that can be counted as property of god. What else property can be counted as property as god - is any one of them that would be count as exclusive property of god?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, sphennings, Mołot, SRM, Hohmannfan Apr 23 '17 at 8:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you clear up this question? First do you have a specific idea for what the God or gods are? For example is this meant to be God from the Bible who is a wholey onimpitent being that created the universe, or the Greek gods who control respective portions of the natural realm or are they just advanced aliens that present themselves as gods to less sophisticated beings? Secondly do these gods or God actually exist in the universe as a physical being, or do they live on a higher spiritual plane of existence that can't be seen by creatures from the natural world? $\endgroup$ – ntchapin Apr 22 '17 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Also with respect to your assumption that gods don't war with each other. Most mythologies, and religions have gods or spiritual beings warring. According to Christianity after the birth of the universe there was a massive civil war in heaven between God and Lucifer, the arch angel of worship. Zoroastrianism is a religion based completely on an all good god and an all bad god being locked in eternal combat. Greek and Norse mythology contains wars and fighting between gods. In fact most mythology contains fighting between gods and fighting between gods and monsters. $\endgroup$ – ntchapin Apr 22 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ You should give definition of your gods. If your gods are just human with a lot of followers, then it's understandable if they are very limited. You need to edit your question, else it will be closed as too broad $\endgroup$ – Vylix Apr 22 '17 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ You want an exclusive property all gods hold? Inexplicability. The reason they are viewed as gods is, because we (the non gods) can not comprehend the ways in which the gods work. Culture gave gods tons of properties. Raising the sun, controling the tides, etc. While science tries to find explanations, religions attribute all (yet) unexplainable things to their god. Humans like to have explanation and reason behind stuff. So a god is a kind of placeholder for yet unexplainable stuff. The farther the culture, the more complex are the god's abilities. $\endgroup$ – Morfium Apr 22 '17 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Morfium interesting thought. But remember that Greek gods are fighting each other for political power. That is explainable by human. And child logic sometimes is unexplainable. Is he/she god? Well, sometimes, for his parents. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Apr 22 '17 at 15:18
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Magic

When gods perform miracles, they do so by creating and directing a physical force which is none of the four fundamental forces of nature. The force can not be explained with any known model of physics. Maybe there are scientific principles behind them (when the god's power is not limitless, scientific principles are required to quantify those limits), but those principles can not be observed in any other form in nature, nor is there any way to create or control this force in any way except by the will of a god.

This might get even more interesting when the gods in your universe apparently can violate the laws of thermodynamics:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. - Genesis 1:3

According to our current understanding of physics, you can convert mass into energy and energy into mass, but you can not create either from scratch. The power to do this with the power of their mind might be an ability exclusive to gods in your universe.

Sufficiently advanced aliens might be able to replicate the effects of this "god-force" using technology based on the regular fundamental forces. They might have to burn through a few galaxies worth of energy to replicate a major miracle, but who cares if you control the entire universe. But nevertheless they will never be able to create that force on their own or even understand how the gods create it (the gods might not even know themselves).

When your sufficiently advanced aliens understood and gained control of everything else in the universe, the power of the gods will not really be practically significant. For any practical purposes, they are magnitudes more powerful than any god. But the mere thought that there is still that one thing in the universe they will never understand and harness could make them furious. Especially when it includes something as potentially useful as creating energy from nothing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Never heard that Magic is a property of God? But well ... okay, many people just praying to a big old unseen wizard. $\endgroup$ – Paul Wasilewski Apr 22 '17 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ So if black holes spawn new universes… $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 22 '17 at 19:46
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Afterlife

Gods could be the only ones that decide what happens to a living being after its death. If we can take for granted that such afterlife exists in the first place.

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  • $\begingroup$ In more than one story, advanced beings used technology to preserve the minds of the dead. In particular, see Time Pressure by Spider Robinson. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 22 '17 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Not all religions have an afterlife. Christianity and Islam do, but the Hebrew religion didn't in its earlier incarnations (I do not know what Judaism's current position on the afterlife is). Hinduism and Buddhism have cycles of reincarnation which isn't exactly an afterlife. Yes many religions have afterlives, but not all. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 23 '17 at 3:42
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Identity with a Force of Nature

Pagan gods were personifications of Forces of Nature. You had gods of fire, gods of the oceans, gods of harvests/fertility, gods of lightning, etc...

But when I say Forces of Nature, I'm not restricting myself to Nature per se, but I'm referring to every kind of power that may move/transform the Cosmos. So you also had gods of love, of war, of wisdom and of death.

But what you need to realize is that these gods didn't merely have power over their respective Force of Nature. They were personifications of it. Meaning, they were the very essence of those Forces of Nature, with a human face that would make the behaviour of said Forces more intelligible and predictable.

What this entails is that, for example, the god of fire didn't have some kind of fiery superpowers... Rather, he was Fire itself. If you killed the god of fire, then fire would cease to exist. Alternatively, fire would become unruly and chaotic, since the orderly Principle that governed fire was no more.


If you keep going up the ladder, away from polytheism, you would get God. Being the sole god, he would not identify himself with any force of Nature, since any Force of Nature is just a fragment of reality and that would entail that all other parts of reality had no power ruling over them. So, to have a single god, we would have to resort to:

  1. Pantheism - God is the Cosmos itself

  2. Monotheism - God is not a part of the Cosmos, but transcends it. God is, then, Being itself.


Knowing this, it is easy to understand that humans may never be gods. Humans are mortal (unlike the perennial Forces that govern Nature) and humans are individual monads. It is impossible for a human to be pure fire, or to be pure wisdom, or to be death, or to be the Cosmos, or to be Being (a human is a being, but not Being itself).

As a human individual, each mortal only represents himself/herself. Sure, he/she may be more or less wise, or more or less loving, or a more or less skilled warrior than his/her counterparts, but ultimately, he/she will be his/her own unique thing.

Now, this doesn't mean that a human can't get fire powers by receiving such powers as blessing from the fire god. Or that a human can't master fire by becoming one with the fire god through mystic rituals. But a human can't be Fire itself, or else he would be a Force of Nature, and would cease to be human and become a god.

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In monotheistic religions (believing in one god) - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - God has the following (exclusive) properties.

Omnipotence God is all-powerful. He can do whatever he wants.

Omniscience God is all-knowing. He know everything what happened, what is happening and what will be happening.

Omnipresence God is all-present. He is everywhere at the same time.

Omnibenevolent God is all-good. He do no harm.

All those four attributes are quite exclusive. Although some might argue that in times of information society humans are very close to have the ability to be Omnipresence (or even Omniscience) as well.

In polytheistic religion (believing in more than one god) - Celtic paganism, Ancient Greek religion - it's very common that a god has exclusive power over nature, emotions or spirit. For example

  • Power over Weather
  • Power over Love
  • Prophecy
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  • $\begingroup$ no, we aren't even close to Omnipresence and Omniscience. A simple example of that is the solar system - a little know, no single human outside earth orbit. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Apr 22 '17 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg I wrote some might argue that so this have nothing to do with my personal or common thoughts and beliefs. $\endgroup$ – Paul Wasilewski Apr 22 '17 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ good point I almost missed it :). My point was that the arguing would be ended in 5 seconds. But in general, I kept in mind more general situation as possible informational universe model and how much it requires in terms of computing power, will it be usual computer or quantum computer does not matter - the amount of information is just enormous and all we have today is just a dirt spec on a planet of information. I have an answer which kinda touches the problem in a certain way, we are not even close to that. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Apr 22 '17 at 21:46
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There is only one fundamental exclusive property a God can have.

His believers faith.

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  • $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking that's a property of its believers not the deity itself. This is a personal quirk, but deities shouldn't have gender attributed to them. No-one wants to be caught up in the theological convolutions of arguments about the reproductive cycles of gods. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 23 '17 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android na could go around in circles arguing it, but look at it as God gave them the faith, so it's his.... not meaning masculine or feminine here, assume gender neutral $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 23 '17 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ I was going to come back and say this. This is the only thing that makes someone a God - whether someone else believes they are. That's it. $\endgroup$ – aphenine Apr 24 '17 at 8:58
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Gods are not bound by our laws of nature. They are always a metaphysical entity. Of course, many belief systems assume we humans have a metaphysical component as well (our mind or our soul), so there does need to be some distinguishing factor between humans and gods.

The dividing line is actually pretty simple. In all cases when gods are involved, they are capable of doing something which cannot be done by a human being. What that thing is varies from deity to deity, but universally all of them do something that a human being cannot do.

You're welcome!

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  • $\begingroup$ Something that cannot be done by a human being? Does this make, for example, earthworms gods? Because they can burrow through soil in a way humans cannot. Perhaps doing things contrariwise to nature or unbounded by physical limits might be more apposite. $\endgroup$ – a4android Apr 23 '17 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android That's actually an interesting distinction. On one hand, we can always burrow with brute force. On the other hand, you're right that they do it in a way we cannot. And, when you hear an old gardener talking about worms, there's a certain respect for them which comes with an almost religious tone of voice as they describe what those earthworms do for their garden. Maybe you're on to something! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Apr 23 '17 at 3:45

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