There are those who insist that there can be one and only one possible Maximally Greatest Being (i.e. – God for all practical purposes). Others, like myself, insist that if there can exist one God, there can exist many gods. It’s the old monotheism vs. polytheism argument. While I personally opt for the sum total of zero gods, if there is indeed a philosophical requirement for there to be one deity, then that opens up the can of worms of why there can’t be two or more deities, all Maximally Greatest Beings. What follows are my arguments – basically my side of the story – in a debate I had with a true monotheistic believer who I shall identify as “John Smith” – not his real name.
Note: For sake of text minimization, I’ll usually reduce the oft used phrase “Maximally Greatest Being” to MGB and “Maximally Greatest Beings” to MGBs.
Regarding the Number of Possible Maximally Greatest Beings
John Smith insists that two (or more) Maximally Greatest Beings couldn’t exist because they couldn’t co-exist. I fail to see why not since by the by, it doesn’t follow that two such not-quite-so-all-omni beings couldn’t co-exist. Zeus, Hades and Poseidon did. Why couldn’t one, for sake of argument, have a god ruling over just one galaxy? Since there are billions of galaxies, there could be billions of gods! Think about it. God would be subject to the very same laws of physics that He created, like obtaining information at the restrictive speed of light. How could just one God keep tabs on all those PokerGalaxy millions upon millions of light years away?
There are hundreds of traits or properties that one could have that are the greatest in that category, but some of those greatest categories are equal and opposite. Could the greatest possible baseball pitcher ever strike out the greatest possible baseball batter? If God entails being greatest in all possible traits, then God is the greatest evil being possible. In any event, greatest is in the eye of the beholder since greatness is a mental concept not a something that can be absolutely measured to the agreement of all.
There have been, there are, and there will be many, many, many Maximally Greatest Beings (MGBs), each one of those many being maximally greatest at this or that or the next thing. There has been or will be a maximally greatest politician or golfer or jazz artist or dictator or poster on this, that or the next website forum. John Smith is the MGB at being John Smith. Now if by one MGB John Smith means being ‘Greatest’ in all things possible to be greatest in, then his one MGB is greatest at being sexist, racist, boring, evil, nasty, dictatorial, self-centred, egotistical, crude, rude and tattooed.
If you (Royal You) pick and choose what traits your Maximally Greatest Being (MGB) has, then others (like me) can pick and choose what traits they think the MGB has or should have – that’s only fair. And guess what? Others have and thus others have come up with MGB alternatives! My alternative is called Mother Nature. She’s certainly omnipresent and is surely all-powerful, and if you subscribe to the doctrine of Panpsychism, Mother Nature is collectively all-knowing as well.
If the logic that a MGB points to God and only to God, then the entire world would collective be as one with that logic and acknowledge the one and only one possible MGB as being God. Clearly the entire world doesn’t agree with John Smith’s logic. Within human cultures, there have been and are numerous MGBs, even no such thing as any MGB.
My bottom line is that just because something or someone is possible does NOT, repeat does NOT make that something or someone actual. That statement applies to generalities as well as to any specific, unique case. To argue that possible equals actual suggests to me that a crash course in Logic 101 is in order as a matter of some high degree of priority.
Why can’t the Maximally Greatest Being (MGB) in question be a pussy cat instead of a person? Well actually that MGB has to be an extraterrestrial since that being isn’t native to this planet, assuming that being has physical reality and isn’t just an all-in-the-human-mind conception of MGB ‘reality’. So perhaps John Smith’s MGB is just an extraterrestrial pussy cat! In the absence of any actual sighting of John Smith’s MGB, who knows what this being is, or looks like! Of course if John Smith’s MGB is non-physical, then any description is nonsense including defining this entity as a “person”.
There would either have to be none, or way more than one Maximally Greatest Being (MGB) on the grounds of ‘different strokes for different folks’. Not everyone is going to agree on, or come up with, the exact same MGB. That I’m sure applies to theologians, metaphysics buffs, philosophers, as well as the everyday ordinary great unwashed. Then toss in extraterrestrial intelligences and their ideas surrounding a Maximally Greatest Alien Being and well, you get more MGBs than there are characters in an ever ongoing TV soap opera.
That apart, a real omnipotent deity (as defined by John Smith) could travel back in time and team up with itself to ultimately create an entire army of MGBs. How?
Say his MGB on the 31st of December 2014 returned back in time to the 1st of January 2014. A real omnipotent deity should have no trouble doing this since it is allowable by actual physics – Einstein’s equations and all that jazz. Now that means that his MGB meets and greets himself or itself. There’s no violation of conservation laws here since according to John Smith, his MGB is non-physical.
Okay, so on the 1st of January 2014 we now have two MGBs. These two travel forward in time in the normal way until the 30th of December 2014. They both then travel back in time to the 2nd of January 2014 and meet and greet their two doubles. So now we have four MGBs.
Okay, so on the 2nd of January 2014 we now have four MGBs. These four travel forward in time in the normal way until the 29th of December 2014. The four of them then travel back in time to the 3rd of January 2014 and meet and greet their four ‘clones’. So now we have eight MGBs.
Okay, so on the 3rd of January 2014 we now have eight MGBs. These eight travel forward in time in the normal way until the 28th of December 2014. These eight then travel back in time to the 3rd of January 2014 and meet and greet their eight doubles. So now we have sixteen MGBs.
Repeat this scenario again and again and again until you end up with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of MGBs!
That’s what a REAL all-powerful MGB could do.
Back to the co-existence issue. You could in theory get on much better with your ‘next door’ neighbours if you lived on the west coast and they lived on the east coast! If there were one Maximally Greatest Being (MGB) per galaxy, or per universe, or one each in each of numerous parallel universes, there shouldn’t be a problem. And since John Smith often uses the word “could”, well that could equally be “might not”. Some husbands and wives co-exist together quite well, so why not Mr. & Mrs. MGBs? In any event I’ve pointed out numerous times that MGBs aren’t omnipotent.
By John Smith’s own admission, two (or more) Maximally Greatest Beings (MGBs) could not co-exist because they could be in conflict with each other. They would “resist” each other. But both could be omnipotent as in the phrase “irresistible force versus immovable object”. Anyway and therefore, by his own admission, these two (or more) MGBs, should they co-exist, are NOT or would NOT be identical – otherwise there would be no possible scope for conflict. So, by his own logic, there could be more than one MGB since there is no such thing as THE ONE AND ONLY POSSIBLE ONE MGB since John Smith has already stated a second MGB would have to be different.
If you have two omnipotent beings, distinct from each other, which one of the two is THE Maximally Greatest Being (MGB)? If the two were identical clones, they would always be in perfect agreement hence no resistance. There is no problem therefore in having two MGBs. If they are not identical clones, there might be resistance. The fact remains that John Smith has conceived of the concept of two MGBs that are NOT identical. I propose two MGBs that are identical clones that are not resisting each other. If you, the reader, can imagine one MGB, you can imagine two.
Nevertheless, the human imagination can, well imagine, more than one Maximally Greatest Being (MGB) existing. There’s nothing in that imagining that requires the two MGBs to actually interact.
Anyway, John Smith says that “No matter how you look at it, at most one MGB can exist”. My response to that is that no MGB need exist. That equally solves John Smith’s issue with two MGBs! No MGBs; no conflicts.
As far as God experiencing everything that can possibly be true all at once, even if there isn’t quite an infinite number of things that can be true at once, the phrase “information overload” springs to mind.
Finally, He (?) – John Smith does write “He” as the gender of his MGB though on what actual grounds I know not – cannot interact dynamically with anything physical, including free creatures. That’s on the grounds that He is non-physical. A deity or MGB who is non-physical is not only blind but deaf too. In fact He can’t smell or taste or touch anything. The five senses only operate physically in a physical realm by being physical. Something non-physical interacting with something physical is in that same category of creating something from nothing.
Even though John Smith says that God just IS all of those things, God apparently is powerless to actually change any of those things. If God is all-knowing and if God wanted to forget what you had for breakfast this morning, God cannot do so. Therefore God’s abilities are limited and therefore God isn’t an all-omni deity.
John Smith cannot imagine anyone conceiving of more than one Maximally Greatest Being! He should just speak for himself. I can imagine two (even more than two) MGBs. They might be in different galaxies; they might be in different universes, they might be in differing parallel universes; they might be brother and sister (since gender isn’t a trait that come with a maximally qualifier). Of course IMHO there is no such thing as a MGB, rather, as John Smith said, there are VERY great beings – one GREAT at golf; one GREAT at chess; one GREAT at poker; one GREAT at basketball; one GREAT at billiards, and so on and so on.
You, the reader, surely know the concept of parallel universes. If there are parallel universes, a very common theme in sci-fi, then each parallel universe could contain its very own Maximally Greatest Being. Each of those MGBs wouldn’t be identical in traits that have nothing to do with omni-ness. One parallel universe might have an MGB that’s green with tentacles; another that’s been created by a tri-sexual MGB; another that’s fond of pizza but not of scrambled eggs and one that’s fond of scrambled eggs but not pizza. There’s no reason why there would be any interaction between these parallel universes, although that spoils the plot line in your average parallel universe sci-fi epic.
If parallel universes are separate and apart and do not interact – thus spoiling numerous sci-fi plots – they each could have their own Maximally Greatest Being. I fail to see the absolute logic behind one MGB creating numerous separate and apart parallel universes. However, it’s logically coherent; it could be the case, but then so too is one MGB per universe, IMHO.
Ultimately over time, multi-millions if not billions of people have believed in more than one deity. Polytheism existed for thousands of years before anyone came up with John Smith’s version of theological monotheistic logic. So the question is, what makes them (those into polytheism) wrong and John Smith and other true monotheistic believers right when those believers in polytheism had mental abilities and access to the exact same logic and trains of logic as John Smith and other true monotheism believers have? If John Smith’s philosophical, metaphysical and theological logic is so absolute and so cut-and-dried, why isn’t everyone on board his monotheistic boat?
And millions, no, billions of people over many thousands of years have disagreed with John Smith. I repeat, if his logic was so overwhelming that one and only one deity could exist, then why so many others believed to the contrary is an extremely bad reflection on their mental abilities and ability to thing logically. I somehow doubt that all these polytheistic believers were that mentally incapable of figuring out monotheistic logic. Many probably did and consigned it to the rubbish bin. Either they were all dummies in logic, or else John Smith is a superhuman when it comes to figuring things out like number of deities.
Some of the deities in some mythologies I’ve read, though while never actually using the word “omnipotent” tend to be described by the authors of those mythologies in terms that come darn close, like the very first being or beings in the various creation stories that pretty much mirror John Smith’s Maximally Greatest Being. Anyway, polytheistic deities that are omnipotent suggest that his concept that there can be one and only one MGB is not something all people adopt. Of course anybody and everybody who has a philosophy or a worldview is convinced that their philosophy or their worldview is THE one and only correct philosophy or worldview. That’s human nature. So by all means John Smith has a right to pat himself on the back as being the one and only one right on this issue relative to the millions of others who each feel they are the one and only one right on this issue. Just don’t expect any of them to pat John Smith on the back as well.