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I've been considering a universe with 3 omnipotent gods, who have created together an earth-like world (for example one god created the planet covered with only oceans, another god raised the continents, another one created plants, etc.) with sapient inhabitants.

The gods may regularly show up to the inhabitants and perform miracles, but they voluntarily limit these interventions. Basically they have agreed with each other not to interfere too much with the mortals, otherwise it would lead to chaos on the planet. I imagined that the gods decided on that rule because of a previous incident, when one of the gods got angry at the mortals and wiped out the entire civilization (after that, the gods created a new one).

It then occurred to me that the very existence of multiple omnipotent beings is contradictory. What if they tried to oppose each other? For example one wants to destroy the world while another one wants to protect it. Since they're omnipotent, they should be both able to achieve what they want, but it is not possible to have the world both destroyed and not-destroyed at the same time.

I can easily say that the gods decided on another rule, that is, that they won't try to oppose each other, but it doesn't solve the problem; it just avoids it. What if a god decided to break that rule? (Note that while they have infinite power, they don't have infinite wisdom.)

So, is it possible to have several omnipotent beings at once? Is there a way to make the contradiction disappear? I'm not too picky about the definition of "omnipotent" - I'll be okay with a system that puts some kind of (tiny) restriction on their powers, as long as they can still be considered omnipotent in practice.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. General note: If you're starting an actual lengthy conversation with another user, please take it to chat. Also, please Be Nice. (None of this is directed at you, @Jivei, just at some of the commenters.) $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 7 '17 at 13:33

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I'm going to challenge your premise "but it is not possible to have the world both destroyed and not-destroyed at the same time". By assuming some sort of "multiverse", having both outcomes may be possible.

I don't know if you are familiar with open source projects, but I think there is an interesting parallel to draw here: In an open source project, developers tend to work together in building software. However, disagreements may arise and in such cases, the software may be forked. In a nutshell, this means that there will be two new projects based on the former and developers will continue to work on their preferred one.

In your question, the reality is the open source project and the gods are the developers. So, whenever the gods oppose each other and disagree on something, they all get what they want because reality is splitted with different outcomes.

Now, why the gods may not want that? Because they want to work together for some reason. Maybe they have grown fond of each other and became friends. Or they think it is wiser to have someone else to help out. Being a lone god may be dull or boring and there will be a positive incentive to attempt to reach a consensus and avoid forking reality.

This sort of mechanism may allow for interesting plots, such as gods sending "pull requests" and "merging" realities back together.

In the gods' perspective, it's kind of playing a sandbox online game: you can either play it "online" with others and sometimes voluntarily abdicate your wishes, or you can play it "offline" and have absolute control over everything. Playing offline may give you some insights about the game and be fun in the beginning, but playing with other people can be more interesting as it adds an element of uncertainty and can be more challenging.

In the god's meta-universe, being a solo god of a universe may be frowned upon and gods that engage in this for "too long" (whatever that means for a god) can be seen as egotistical or narcissistic.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a counter argument; 'forking' the universe to preserve the world is not the same as preventing the destruction in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Rob Aug 7 '17 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Rob Why not? The people living in the world that survives can't tell whether they're the original world or not. Or, rather, there isn't an original world; both are as authentically real and original as each other. There always exists a world where the god is omnipotent in. Also, in the first place implies that it can be destroyed without getting saved; if everything was split unless consensus, which may take no time as the world sees, then it would just go as if nothing happened, which it didn't, in its timeline. $\endgroup$ – prosfilaes Aug 7 '17 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ @prosfilaes Perhaps the people living there couldn't tell the difference; but the gods could. As an immediate difference; now they have two universes to control, rather than one. Preventing an action is very different from remedying it. $\endgroup$ – Rob Aug 7 '17 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ If the gods must do X to get Y and cannot have Y without X, then they are not omnipotent. They are constrained by something. The crux of omnipotence is that your power is limitless and you don't need to employ means to achieve your ends. One only needs means if one's power is not sufficient to accomplish one's ends directly. $\endgroup$ – David Schwartz Aug 7 '17 at 8:57
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As soon as you start using "omni" you start having problems.

Create something you can't destroy

Or in this case

Create something the other guy can't destroy

Which of them isn't omnipotent, the one who can't create such an item or the one who can't destroy it? Either way, one of them is no longer omnipotent.


The old pantheons had a way round this problem, while they had limits to their powers they also had rules to obey, including:

no god may undo what another god has done - Ovid, Metamorphoses

Which meant that if one god had created it, whether the other could destroy it or not was irrelevant, they wouldn't be allowed to try.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 7 '17 at 13:35
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Sure you can have three omnipotent beings - however you have to define omnipotence properly. I'd imagine for your purposes, it's possible to have omnipotence defined as "can do anything". So Deity 1 wants the world destroyed. It is. Deity 2 dislikes that and recreates it the way it just existed, so it is as though Deity 1 had not destroyed it. Maybe even Deity 2 literally undoes what Diety 1 did, ctrl-Z style. Now, what Deity 1-3 cannot do is limit the future actions of Deity 1-3. Nor preempt them.

That sounds sufficently omnipotent for your purposes. It also explains the source of and enforcement of your "not too much" treaty. It was boring to go back and forth for 3 millenia, so they decided not to do that anymore, but if any of them break the rule, they could start right back up. Maybe they even do from time to time, but mortals are never aware of it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think a deity would see destroying a universe that can be undestroyed ctrl-Z style as a pointless task. Much better would be to pervert the creation in subtle ways that are not readily apparent. Of course, that assumes the deities don't also have omniscience, but we can see that won't be an issue here. If we define omniscience as being aware of every truth constantly, then that would violate the condition of non-preemption. If we instead define omniscience as being able to call to mind any truth on demand (without being constantly aware of every truth), then the subtle perversion works. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Aug 4 '17 at 15:57
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This is just another formulation of "Can God create a rock so heavy that even they cannot lift it?" You've just abstracted the paradox a little bit by having there be two all powerful beings instead of one.

There will always be such contradictions when you are talking about things defined as all powerful.

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    $\begingroup$ The correct answer to the question is "Yes and then they'll lift it anyways." :p $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 3 '17 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ "Can you make a rock so heavy that you can't lift it?" "Of course, I can do anything. That is what omnipotent means." "Ha! But now there is a thing you can't do, because that rock is too heavy. How do you explain that?" "I will just make myself stronger and then I can lift it up. You could do the same thing with exercise and enough time, you know" $\endgroup$ – D.Spetz Aug 4 '17 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ If they could become stronger then they weren't all powerful to begin with. We aren't talking about most powerful but all powerful. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 4 '17 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of that Discordian quote. "All things are true." "Even false things?" "Even false things are true." "How can that be?" "I dunno man, I didn't do it." $\endgroup$ – Michael Aug 4 '17 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I see someone is reading his Runaways. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Aug 4 '17 at 17:36
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The phrasings are difficult, as many pointed out. When we see "omni-" we tend to start writing laws and inventing scenarios which violate those laws.

As an option, consider a phrasing which lets each god be omnipotent as long as they are unopposed, and has a tiebreak rule which is sufficient to convince the readers that "omnipotent" is still a valid phrasing. Consider the following time based solution, which uses the order of actions to decipher the plan. Consider a ledger of all actions the gods take.

  • If a god tries to do an action, and nothing on the ledger says this new action violates a previous action, it is enacted, and put into the ledger.
  • If a god tries to do an action, and it is partially opposed by a previous action, the result is a state of the world which satisfies both god's desires (the universe will try its best to resolve a conflict without breaking the omnipotence law)
  • If one god truly opposes the other, they are free to do so. In doing so, they become "bound" in this struggle. In this state, they cannot cause any change to occur. Instead, the third god is permitted to resolve the conflict as they see fit.

It's not truly omnipotence, because you can still create paradoxical structures which cannot be resolved. However, we hide these holes in the omnipotence of two gods behind the omnipotence of the third. Whenever two of them fight, the third (last to act) gets to decide the result. That may be close enough to omnipotence to create a very interesting story. It also leads to what you want, which is a voluntary decision not to step on each other's toes. It would be very reasonable to word each action in this "ledger" of sorts in a way which minimizes the potential for conflict by trying to never use wordings which result in perfect conflict. However, if they reach such perfect conflict by mistake, the rules will keep the system going.

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Yes, you can have three omnipotent Gods, however they're only omnipotent while they work in concert.

The three Gods create the world, the continents and life, they are in harmony.

One of them we'll - call it Omega - decides the world is flawed and moves to destroy it.

Gamma moves to stop Omega giving the third God Epsilon free reign. This situation is unacceptable to both Omega and Gamma who split their focus to constrain Epsilon & each other.

As all the Gods are equally powerful so each nullifies the other. Assuming the people know about the Gods they will thank Gamma for bountiful harvests, Epsilon for new births and try to appease Omega for devastating events like storms, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

So can you have three Omnipotent Gods? If they work in concert yes, but then they're working as one omnipotent entity, so you could say that effectively you have one God. Once they're not in harmony then you effectively have no omnipotent gods.

In my opinion, no story goes well when there are Omnipotent characters around to - literally - deux ex machina the heroes out of trouble.

All great fantasy has characters with little or no power going up against impossible odds (Frodo carrying the ring, Bilbo stealing from Smaug, Perseus v's Kracken, Harry Potter v's the dreaded Voldemort etc), or Characters with immense power who have that power stripped or are constrained against using it (Gandalf, Athena was forbidden from helping Perseus, Antryg Windrose, Rand al'Thor had the taint on saidin, The lesser magicians of Lyonesse are constrained by Murgen etc).

It might be no harm to constrain your three Gods, they can only help / hinder your characters in small ways because almost all their power is constantly consumed fighting the other Gods.

My two cents.

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There can't be more than one omnipotent God unless, like the Christian concept of the Trinity, they exist in perfect Harmony (although, Christians believe in one God existing in three co-equal persons.)

Omnipotence means that all non-contradictory things can be accomplished by the deity (for instance, God can't make a married bachelor or a square circle.)

Omnipotence means that the being always accomplishes His will. Two beings mean two incompatible wills.

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    $\begingroup$ There are some definitions of omnipotent that require that everything that can be expressed in a string of words even if it can be shown to be self-contradictory can be done for an entity to be omnipotent. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 3 '17 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ We can string together sentences in every language that are semantical nonsense. Can you imagine a square circle? The best analogy I can provide to describe the omnipotence of God is that the entire universe exists inside of the mind of God, and he can work whatever he wills because the whole universe is created, held together, defined, and operated within his mind. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Neely Aug 3 '17 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ If a being is bounded by the rules of logic. Then logic is more powerful than that being. Certainly there can't be something more powerful than an all powerful being. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 3 '17 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings, one would say that being logically constrained is merely acting in accordance to his nature, as the source of all logic. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Neely Aug 3 '17 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ If they're the source of logic they should be able to ignore it if they saw fit. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 3 '17 at 22:58
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Yes, multiple omnipotent Gods can coexist.

The OP says:

Is there a way to make the contradiction disappear? I'm not too picky about the definition of "omnipotent" - I'll be okay with a system that puts some kind of (tiny) restriction on their powers,

Here is that tiny restriction: No God can harm another God or diminish the power of another God, or diminish the knowledge of another God. Their omnipotence applies only to the universe, not to each other.

This implies that anything a God can do, another God can undo, perfectly. One God can make our Galaxy vanish: Another can restore it with a snap of their fingers without an atom or photon out of place. She does not have to be wise or smart, just wish it to be so.

What happens if they oppose each other?

If they squabble; they can both sit there and do/undo each other's work for eternity, a cosmic version of the children's squabble Yes it is! / No it isn't!

Such is the nature of being a God, they know this from experience, and it fits with being omnipotent. If they want something done, they must agree upon it.

Such an agreement could be a physical field (these billion galaxies are mine, those billion are yours), or it could be a theoretical division (How about I do the insects, and you do the fish, and John does the land animals, and this time Mark does the solar system?)

However they come to an agreement, the only way for a God to build something that won't be instantly vanished is to please the other Gods, or at least be tolerated by them (perhaps in exchange for their own tolerance of what other Gods create). Their only options are agreement or stalemate, and stalemate is boring.

I imagine a council of them setting rules about creation that they then adhere to, each in their own self-interest of having a little fun in some corner of the universe without the other kids kicking over the sand castle they built.

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  • $\begingroup$ Any god who can be stalemated by another god is not omnipotent. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ErikE The OP allows a limit on the Gods powers. These Gods are, as I described, omnipotent within their universe, but think of their universe as something like a simulation (Sim City or Grand Theft Auto) for a programmer in charge of creating the game: That person can do anything within the game they want; but not anything in reality they want. If the Gods exist outside our Universe, they can be omnipotent within it, but not amongst each other. I hope that clears things up. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Aug 5 '17 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ That's fair enough. Omnipotent within a sphere I suppose, though it's s bit of a contradiction in terms. Perhaps semi-omnipotent? $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ That's perhaps the most elegant solution: two players who play chess are omniscient as far as the chessboard is concerned (they know everything on it). We could even say they are omnipotent to a large degree (what would prevent one player from removing the pieces or breaking the board, except they own desire to respect the rules? And should that happen what would prevent the other from putting it back together?). Yet the two players wouldn't be able to control each other. So such a situation would be a chess play. The situation easily generalizes to n users. $\endgroup$ – fralau Sep 2 '17 at 16:35
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Perhaps instead of omnipotent and omniscient, you should instead use hyper.

Omni: all; of all things.

Hyper: a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it meant “over,” usually implying excess or exaggeration

Therefore, hyperpotent, able to do far more than mere mortals. But not quite all things.

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  • $\begingroup$ Even if I called them "hyperpotent" because they're not perfectly omnipotent, I don't think that would solve the contradiction. $\endgroup$ – Jivei Aug 4 '17 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think "hyperpotent" could solve the contradiction, since two opposite forces (or set of forces) excerted on the same object/world would cancel out. With three hyperpotent deities, the combined force of two of them would overcome the efforts of the third and so any time two of them agreed, their version of events would transpire, while anything all three agreed on would happen much faster and with much greater force, than if only a single god were acting. $\endgroup$ – 8DX Aug 4 '17 at 15:26
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It depends on your definition of omnipotence.

If you postulate that omnipotence means that the entity can accomplish anything as long as it follows the rules of logic than it can't create the often cited "stone it can't lift". That would be illogical and therefore is not part of omnipotence. This would mean that there could not be a second entity that is also omnipotent.

If you postulate that omnipotence means that the entity can literally do anything than it can ignore the rules of logic. This means it can create a square circle and a "stone that it can't lift" without losing its omnipotence. It's operating outside of what you would call logic. This easily allows for multiple omnipotent entities that can do anything they want.

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  • $\begingroup$ Creating an object you can't lift is within the power of any normal person. Why does it become a self contradictory sentence when applied to someone omnipotent? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 3 '17 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Because is something is all powerful they should be able to lift anything. That all is a tricky word. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 3 '17 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ It's a delightfully tricky word, in this case it means they can no longer do something an ordinary person can do, meaning that omnipotence itself is self contradictory. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 3 '17 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Which leads to the easy "solution" of postulating that omnipotence means not being constrained by logic. Self-contradiction is no problem once you are out of the realm of logic. $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Aug 3 '17 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ The real solution is as the gods have always done it, mortal says, "you can't do this", Omnipotent being says, "I can give you a lightning bolt to the face though". Works every time, just as cheap but brings in the sacrifices. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 4 '17 at 14:18
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I'll be okay with a system that puts some kind of (tiny) restriction on their powers

In that case, have the three differently ranked in terms of priority. One of them is truly omnipotent, however the second is omnipotent as long as he doesn't oppose the first one and the third is omnipotent as long as he doesn't oppose the first two.

or

The gods are all omnipotent, except when opposing another. So a god can't stop another god from doing something, but can undo it afterwards. And a god can't make his effect unundoable by another god. So if one god wants to make a storm , while the other wants a baking heat, one must wait until the other is finished creating the storm before taking away the clouds and wind and turning up the sun.

This, of course, may result huge chains or stacks of effects to "resolve" á la Magic: The Gathering. But given that each one is instantaneous, even such a stack trillions of effects deep would not even be noticed by the mortals. (Or maybe it would... cue the mortals rolling their eyes, "the gods are at it again...") -

Maybe in the case of a deadlock, the third god casts the "deciding vote".

The possibility that all three could want something different and remain steadfast could be a plot hook.

or

Gods with infinite wisdom also have infinite maturity. Therefore they can always come to an agreement on a way to resolve their differences!

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Yes. Brandon Sanderson has explored this topic a bit (I prefer not to specify which work to avoid spoilers). Essentially, you can have gods with theoretically unlimited power, but with some limitations on their ability to apply it.

In particular, the gods can have a limited ability to focus. If a god actually thinks about a particular physical change, it is done, but they can only focus on so many things in a given second. If one god focuses on a certain battle, another god may use that opportunity to affect a distant city's weather. If both focus on the same things, they're likely to cancel out. You can get about as fine-grained as you want here (eg affecting individual particles, people, or cities), and give them as much focus / processing power as you like, as long as it is finite.

Another possibility is making any action theoretically doable to a god, but at a cost of experiencing a proportional degree of pain, depending on the degree of distortion of the natural order, or the improbability.

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If by omnipotent we mean 'can do anything', yes.

Usually, it is assumed that an omnipotent being is limited by the laws of logic. An omnipotent being cannot simultaneously destroy and not-destroy something, for example. So we've already accepted some limitations on omnipotence.

As other answers point out, if two omnipotent beings oppose each other, they can't both succeed, therefore they are not all-powerful. We can avoid this paradox with rules which limit their power. Perhaps there is a hierarchy which determines who wins in a conflict. Perhaps they can continuously undo each other's work. These rules are up to you.

However, multiple omnipotent beings can exist if they never oppose each other. Your gods can be all-powerful, able to do anything they choose, provided their natures mean they will never come into conflict.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's not a limitation on omnipotence, any more than being unable to die is somehow less omnipotent, too. See my comments throughout the page. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 8:24
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Absolutely, if you're careful with your definitions.

Omnipotent = All Powerful = Infinite amount of power.

Power is a well defined term, in physics.

You have an infinite amount of Power,(P= W/t) but it does not necessarily mean you can break the laws of physics.

It's no longer a hypothetical 'They can do literally anything they will', which is subject to the old paradoxes for any universe with one or more 'omnipotent' beings, but a statement that 'they can apply an unlimited amount of force to any matter in the universe' which I believe is less open to paradoxes.

Could God A create a rock that God B can't move? Nope, because there's a finite amount of mass in the universe. Of course God A could HOLD the rock in place using its power, but they would simply cancel each other out (and maybe the rock would get very very hot.)

Both have an infinite amount of power, and can use it as they wish, in any situation where they disagree exactly, nothing happens, they can only apply that power when they agree. The entire universe would be run 'by committee' I can think of nothing more scary.

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    $\begingroup$ The existence of camels proves that the universe is run by committee... $\endgroup$ – Klaws Aug 4 '17 at 14:16
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I would say yes, if omnipotence is "only" infinite capability for action and not a capability for knowing (omniscience) or a will to act.

You could perfectly have gods that could do anything in theory, but who do not do so in practice, because they do not know all that is going on. They could also be blind, dumb, fearful or lazy, so one would have to coax them to use their powers.

In that case you could have several gods who are omnipotent, in the sense that their action is potential but not effective. Then you would have a large space for a story to develop on how these gods would eventually use or not use their power, or use it well or badly.

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In some sense, we have "systems" with multiple omnipotence gods right now.

Look at the PC or the phone you are using.

If you are the system administrator on the device, you can do anything to the files, programs, etc on the computer. This could be considered akin to an "omnipotent" being in the realm of that computer.

And there can be multiple system administrators logged in, especially on a linux computer. All with "root" privileges. Occasionally certain tasks can only be done from a single-user mode, like when you are resizing partitions or modifying parts of the kernel.

And beyond logged in a single-user mode, having physical access to the computer trumps remote access... with being able to disconnect the network cable, turn off the device with a hard disconnect or unplugging it all together.

Now take the levels of access and control described above, and apply it to a physical world/dimension, and you have bound rules for multiple omnipotent beings. Any god could come and change anything and everything, but they might not be present. Or they have to be physically present to be able to do certain kinds of tasks. Or in the midst of a world changing event, they have an exclusive access to the dimension for a brief period of time, and then access opens up again for any other being to muck about again.

Hope that helps.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree (your answer completes that of @Amadeus). When thinking along this line I had also thought about the analogy of computer administration. Actually many types of "universes" (in the sense of human-created artifacts) would fit that description. $\endgroup$ – fralau Sep 2 '17 at 16:43
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Yes, if you property define the scope of omnipotence.

Scoping omnipotence at first seems contradictory, but on closer inspection, all omnipotence is scoped somewhat. No construction of omnipotence, for example, allows a god to create something inherently contradictory, like a square circle.

Multiple omnipotent beings aren't contradictory, so long as you define 'omnipotence' in a way that allows for it. For example, what if you define omnipotence by saying that each god can create an infinite amount of energy in any form, including as matter? Such a god would be able to create or destroy anything anywhere, which is reasonably 'omnipotent', but wouldn't be able to stop other gods from doing the same. They could expend energy to stop another god from doing something, with both sides being able to push more energy into a conflict until it hit critical density and formed a black hole.

This is basically saying, "a god can do anything that's possible using infinite energy", which is a fair deal of omnipotence, while at the same time answering the age-old question: no, a god cannot microwave a burrito so hot that he himself can't eat it.

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Omnipotence could, possibly, allow these beings to set something outside of their control, or to put limits on their own powers.

One could imagine the gods signing a pact and 'setting aside' some of their powers. While that might be smudging the line of omnipotence after such a contract, it might be the best way to allow them to coexist.

Perhaps any power greater than X requires a consensus to use. Perhaps each one would instantly know the actions and thoughts of the other, allowing them to immediately countermand an action. Or, perhaps, maybe they simply chose to give up a portion of their power, only to be taken up in times of dire need.

Many Christians consider Jesus to have given up some or all of the powers of God while on Earth, yet He remained the omnipotent God.

You can always count on the difficulty and complexity of divine natures to fill in the gaps. Perhaps we just can never truly understand how it was achieved. They are so far above us, how can we comprehend?

But without freely-taken limits or perfect harmony, you cannot have pure omnipotence in three beings.

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It depends on the degree to which you're willing to handwave logical contradictions. The thing is, as others have pointed out, that omnipotence is in itself more or less logically impossible. There's myriad examples demonstrating how omnipotence leads to inherent contradiction, even if you apply the now relatively popular definition of "able to do everything that's not logically impossible" for omnipotent. It's a general problem of naïve set theory, see Russel's Paradox for the most famous abstract example. So if you're willing to allow omnipotence to exist, you've already decided that the whole thing doesn't need to be completely logically sound and some inherent contradiction is alright, you just need to make it feel not too obvious.

This means that your solution largely depends on the kind of story and mood you want to create. For example:

  • in mathematics certain kinds of infinity can be larger than other kinds of infinity, so can certain kinds of omnipotence be more potent than others? If you have three gods, could one act as a tiebreaker if two have a conflict? Could they still have specialties that they're more omnipotent in than the others?
  • religious apologists like to invoke "god's nature" as an inherent limitation of god which is supposed to leave his omnipotence intact, basically claiming that while god can do everything, he cannot want everything.
  • also quite popular is to simply claim that god is above and not constrained by logic and thus able to be or do contradictory things at the same time. Islam is particularly well known for knowingly having a god with many contradictory traits at once, but the Christian god also does this. I will say that this isn't a particularly satisfying way of dealing with the problem narratively, but considering how many millions of people are willing to accept that gods work in mysterious ways and human minds just can't grasp them, maybe some readers will too.
  • last from me, why do they have to actually be omnipotent in a philosophical way? you said yourself they should be so "in practice". Honestly then, doesn't "cosmically powerful" do the trick? A being able to create and destroy worlds at will is, from a human perspective, certainly omnipotent enough. The problem with "Omni-" is that it's absolute, even the smallest crack destroys it completely. However, the gods can still be considered omnipotent by the mortals simply by being powerful beyond their comprehension.

I also like the multiverse idea yuri proposed and the limited focus one user271667 mentioned.

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  • $\begingroup$ What are the contradictory traits of the christian god? $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ Apart from the inherent contradictinos within omnipotence, omnipotence and omniscience can't coexist logically in most of their forms. Then there's mercy and justice as I mentioned above. The whole origin and existence of god is also commonly described in contradictory or fallacious ways. It's hard, however, to argue against something that isn't precisely defined, so the exact list depends on what you think the words mean. Counterapologetics, by its nature, is reactive to apologetics and on their form depends the counter. $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Aug 5 '17 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ I hardly think that having traits in apparent tension with each other is the same as embodying contradiction. I agree that the popularized definitions of omnipotence contain inherent contradictions, thus using that term with those meanings for God is nonsensical. My non-contradictory definition is "having sufficient power to do anything that power is sufficient to do." I'd be happy to address any contradictions you think you see. Not all paradoxes are contradictions. For example, it seems contradictory that God could be 3 and 1 at the same time, but only if he's 3 and 1 in the same way. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think a 600 character comment thread is a good place for religious discussion, but my first answer would have to be that your definition of omnipotence is empty, because it apparently relies on a very specific meaning of "power", which then would need its own definition. And this is kind of the crux, each of your statements would need me to ask several other questions potentially leading to more questions before Icould answer them, because we're largely not talking about realities we can both experience but personal interpretations of concepts. $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Aug 5 '17 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ I don't shy away from necessary work to understand reality. I don't accept some definition quickly in order to do less work when that definition is inherently unusable, self-contradictory, and ends the conversation immediately without producing any fruit. If "my definition" of power is one that must be explored, that is because God's power is not so shallowly described as "able to do anything imaginable, including the absurd." You are free to not like that, and want power to be simplistic and shallow. $\endgroup$ – ErikE Aug 5 '17 at 19:52
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Ask the same question about the length of a piece of string: They can all be the longest if they are the same length!.

As many of the other answers state, what you need to do is define what you mean by omnipotent. If you twist the meaning just a little, you can say they are omnipotent here, rather than completely omnipotent. Thus they are all of equal power to us but possibly have some sort of hierarchy amongst themselves.

The idea that there are three gods requires some sort of difference between them, so they cannot all be exactly the same. If they were string, maybe they'd be different colours or materials. For gods, they'd have different personalities, but their capabilities are still omnipotent in our reality.

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I'd add, gods don't have to be human-like. Perhaps their plane of being is simply such that its inconceivable for them to actually seek to destroy one another. They know where that would end up so they just don't, and won't ever. The question "yes but ifffff......?" can be left open as a teaser for the reader, perhaps put into the speech of some character.

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As mentioned, the Animorphs solution is a consideration... If a being is all powerful, than it is powerful enough to kill another all powerful being. However, an all powerful being would be powerful enough to defend itself from a killing blow. So we have a conunumdrum here.

But you're forgetting that omnipotence means omniscience... a being that is all knowing (and omnipresence, or occupying every space all at once, but lets leave that down to functional teleportation for the time being.). So god 1 would know that attacking god 2 would result in god 2 knowing that god 1 was going to attack (before it happened) and building proper safeguards to stop it... this gets into nasty infinite loop kind of consequences and knowing what could happen if they came directly to blows. So the gods in their infinite wisdom would definately not do that.

In Animorphs, the two gods (the Elliminist and Cayarak) did reach this problem in their combat... and then got even more powerful... and they struck an agreement... they would face each ther in a long scale game that the entire course of the book series was probably akin to moving a pawn in chess... The rules were they could not directly interfere... unless they granted their opponent one meddling action to counter their own action. We can see this play out in two seperate Megamorphs books... In the first, the Elliminst realizes an individual using the Time Matrix (a time machine he created as part of playing around with god powers) and would dramatically alter the game in ways neither player could predict (but the Cayarak enjoyed because the present meddling was turning it in his favor). So Elliminst meddled by using the Animorphs to go after the time traveler and fix the issues. Cayarak okayed this, but his stipulation was that he would be the one to send them back and he demanded one of the Animorphs must die. All these things happen, but the Animorphs were able to finally stop the time traveler and undo all the events of the book, including the aformentioned death, by ensuring that the time traveler was never born.

In the second book, Cayarak offers Jake a do over of the entire series, which results in actually leads to the defeat of the main series antagonists earlier than if Jake hadn't made the decision, at which point, Cayarak calls foul and we learn how the Elliminsit countered the initial meddling... turns out, one of the characters has a temporal awareness that allows her to recognize a false timeline... and this gift can propigate, causing the others to actually be successful. Of course, between all the important connections on the team (two of the team are the brother and son of the same character, who incidentally gave all of them their mission to fight, and another was the son of the enemy general in charge of the entire operation, leading to the accusation that the Elliminst had stacked the deck... or was very clever about it if he had.).

Another comes up with the celestial sapiens from the Ben 10 franchise, which are a race of omnipotent aliens that all have split personalities... they can do just about anything... if both personalities agree... Of course, we learn that one is called bellicus and the other serenea and realize just how little that actually happens, so these creatures go for long periods of time without reacting to anything (they can't even move unless the two personalities agree on it).

In all, it's not impossible to be one of many Capitol-G Gods in a verse.

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I vote no.

If you go to the beginning of time before anything is created -- how can you have 2 or 3 beings of unlimited AND EQUAL power? Did they come from the same place and just appeared in the universe at the same time?

Not even the Greek gods had unlimited power and they still had checks and balances between themselves.

When there is more than one god in the story, they usually have their specialities (realms). In your story it appears to be water, earth and life. Are you saying that each of the 3 gods are able to have identical power, or are they stronger in their attuned element?

Something can seem unlimited from a limited perspective. Software Developers from 40-50 years ago would be astounded by the processing power of modern computers, and from their perspective it would seem to be unlimited processing power because the majority of problems they were seeking to solve can be dealt with in microseconds. Once granted access to the power, they would learn quickly and seek answers to problems that start to reach the limitations of modern hardware.

But ultimately its not about the power but what you do with it. Eventually someone else will win and someone else is better than you. There can be no true equals, even among gods.

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There was a computer game that dealt with this exact type of issue - it was called Sacrifice.

In it, there is a pantheon of gods, each with the power over some aspect. One of them is treacherous and is seeking to destroy the world/other gods.

Essentially, the treacherous one tricks the other gods into performing actions that further his scheme.

Also, a simple solution for either to do whatever they want is to create a demi-being and embue it with the power to perform whatever deed is desired. Both gods could be obeying the rules in the strictest sense - but either could do anything they want through a once removed party.

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If your question had asked about co existence of multiple omnipotent beings, maybe any human theology would apply. Since your question is regarding three omnipotent Gods, we can't know/comment/debate or think about it. Any aspect of God that we can think about, wouldn't be completely true about Him since we would be encompassing that aspect (part) of God within our thought frames.

If there is a God, a creator, he has to be external to our frame of existence. Anything we can think of, would be bound to our scope of existence, which would be unable to reach Godly existence of truth. How can i claim this to be true? I cannot, no one can, because this is also applying some level of human logic to existence of God. The only way for us to realize a godly being is maybe He, Himself introduces to us, in a scope that appeals to our logic and we happily continue to exist with the fact that we cant completely understand His existence or the paradoxes that our logic frames, regarding His characteristics.

For argument's sake, even if we (which i deny can happen in the first place) happen to make a correct assumption about God, it wouldn't be sufficiently accurate ever to make any deductions out of it. There could always be another logical aspect that could satisfy the paradox of godly existence. Even the term "God" is coined by our petty minds. Had there been some absolute entity we knew about, based on whose character we had coined the definition of God, there would have been something to debate about. Questions like, Can a God exist with so and so paradoxes doesn't really govern his existence. Maybe its just our inability to comprehend the being's existence. The only way this can work is that, if He is out there (where?) and He tells us something about Himself, maybe? Even then we tend to accept the existence of something that our minds can accept, knowing nothing about the truth (if it exists) beyond the scope of our comprehension.

So re framing your question as can multiple omnipotent beings based on our "humanly" concept of God exist, so that no controversial paradox that might make our minds reject the supposedly godly existence, might give some ground for debate. Else any argument/deduction/comment/postulate being attributed to God isn't testable, arguable or even thinkable by us.

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That sounds like my world, except it has 19 gods, all of them omnipotent (although they all have their own domain.)

There was one god, who became two. After a while, they had children who, together, created the whole world. One created the earth globe, another the oceans, one the volcanoes, one created sound, another light, etc.

After the inhabitants came to be, one of the gods realised that if many people worship him, he gets more power, even over the creation of his siblings. Thus, rivalry broke out among the gods, and they forever fight with each other to gain more followers. Meanwhile, the inhabitants know for sure the gods exist, and they could theoretically make them powerless (by not worshipping any of them), but life is just so easy with the power granted by the gods.

And that is all. Make them rivals of each other and dependant on an external force, and you are all done.

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No,

If the gods were truly omnipotent, their agendas would be exactly the same, and thus would be (mistaken as) one god, likely serving multiple functions.

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Yes, Study mathematical infinity

In mathematics infinity as a concept can be different sizes. In practice if your Omni's are the same level of infinity then one says DESTROY and one says DON'T DESTROY and the Third remains neutral then not much changes. If 2 want something to change and 1 doesn't, it probably changes, but I could imagine areas of effect (similar to the idea of approaching limits of infinity in math).

Anyway start here: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-different-sizes-of-infinity-2013-11

and then explore zero https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/28940/why-is-infinity-multiplied-by-zero-not-an-easy-zero-answer and here http://www.vitutor.com/calculus/limits/properties_infinity.html

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