Six god options
Before dissecting the table of options on the next page let me clarify some points. When I am talking about God(s) or god(s), I am communicating generically. I am not referring to any particular religion’s deity, to number, or to gender. “God” is the being or beings who made, rule, plan, and maintain the universe. Be it far from me or any other limited human being to say that God must be or do what I say or think. Also, I am not trying to prove the existence of God. I am merely pointing out who we need based on what we have already learned about ourselves and our universe. Before we go searching for God it is helpful to narrow down the list of identifying traits.
We make a table of possibilities by combining the options of quantity and quality. God has either limited, finite power or he has unlimited, infinite power. God’s quality of character is all good, all evil, or some mixture in between. This gives us six options.
Each of these options has an appeal to different audiences, as attested to by the variety we see in movies and literature. My goal is to determine which option can fulfill my paradise instinct.
Whether evil, mixed, or good this set of options has a human appeal because it is like us. We struggle against forces greater than ourselves in an attempt to conquer them and ourselves. We like stories where the common man or the ordinary woman overcomes great odds and grows in the process.
However, our concern at this point is not winning a battle or two. We want to win the whole war over death and suffering. This requires eternal paradise which requires infinity. So our three finite options immediately fall short, but let's briefly consider them to help us visualize and cement them in our minds so we are better able to discuss them with objectors.
Hitler. Nero. Stalin. The devil. Any number of despotic dictators. Demented arch-villains in the movies. All of these are examples of finite beings dedicated to evil. Nobody could endure an eternity under them, but of course, they are incapable of making eternity. They live in the universe as subjects to its laws, then they die. Obviously, this option is nowhere close to a desirable solution.
We could put every human on the planet in this category. We can also put our fictional super heroes like Batman, Superman, and the Avengers in this category. But just because the American people defeated Hitler or the Avengers saved the planet from an invasion from outer space does not mean any or all of these people are anywhere close to providing us with an eternally good universe. In fiction, things are getting better (until the next movie!) but in reality things are getting worse. Putting all the finite beings in the world together will not give us infinity, and good intentions mixed with evil thoughts and actions does not bring perfection. Cross this option off the list.
So where is this perfect person or persons? And how is this finite person so good when they have not lived for an eternity to find out what is really good? We cannot afford limited good. We need endless good. But in the end, it does not matter. Even if such a person(s) could be found, we still have the problem of finiteness when we really need infinity. Put all the gurus, philosophers, and holy men together (if it can be done consistently) and we still have only a tower of wisdom that fails to rise out of the atmosphere much less reach across the universe.
It becomes clear that only an infinite being can give us eternity, so we need to consider the basic kinds of infinite beings. This is where religious fights begin, but let’s focus on just the basics.
With this option, we are talking about some kind of dastardly deity, a divine devil of unimaginable proportions. Death and torture would be inescapable. Even resurrection would simply be a cruel way of getting us to live again so we could be tortured again. Thankfully, we can write off this option in short order. If an infinitely powerful and evil person existed, then we would all be dead and/or continually tortured by now. The fact that there is true, unselfish goodness left in this world proves that an infinitely evil person does not exist.
Next we come to an infinite, and part good part bad, being. Mostly, this is what the monotheistic half of the world believes in. Most Christians, Muslims, Jews, and even many secular people view God as an almighty, all loving, and all powerful person, but in some way selfish, egotistical, and contradictory. It was this confusing, contradictory view of God that drove me out of religion for years and led me to believe that God was dead. (I’ll share some of that story shortly.) If God is infinite and selfish, then we are powerless pawns trapped in a miserable illusion of freedom. If we are to work, earn, beg, buy, or suicide bomb ourselves into the "good" side of the afterlife (if there is one), then the definitive textbook on that method I have yet to find.
And there still remains the problem of evil. In this view, deity is partly selfish, therefore partly evil, and therefore evil remains throughout eternity. The problem remains unsolvable because no one tells an infinite being what to do. So if God remains selfish, then we are stuck, permanently. We will survive forever bouncing off the highs and lows, and always living with the meaningless knowledge that we are pets for an infinite weird person. Because there is a lot of superficial evidence for this option, it is believed by a lot of people. Moving forward, we will often need to compare this option to the next one. Multitudes think this option gives us a perfectly good eternity, but it cannot. Good and evil cannot possibly give us perfectly consistent goodness. When the infinite being who sits on the top of the universe is internally conflicted then contradiction is enthroned, logic is overthrown, and truth becomes impossible.
Having surveyed all other options, we arrive at an infinite good person. A good person is able to generate positive patterns. An infinite good person can generate them forever. If that infinite good person will give us his/her predictability, progressiveness, and profitability then we can enjoy a wonderful eternity of faith, hope, and love. Giving us their goodness is key, so I use good and giving interchangeably.
Because this is the only option with eternal hope, let's explore it in more detail.
In your words:
Which of the six options do you prefer? Why?