Can God Create Another Omnipotent & Omnibenevolent Being?

Naturally, I’m skeptical of logical/deductive arguments for and against the existence of God. One such argument, against the existence of God, alleges that:

1). If God exists, then other omnipotent/omnibenevolent beings are the only beings that exist
2). Other omnipotent/omnibenevolent beings are not the only beings that exist
3). Therefore, God does not exist

The obvious objection is that it’s not clear that God could create other such beings. Is it logically possible? How can we say this? Sure, we can imagine such a scenario, but as we all know, just because we can imagine something, that doesn’t entail that it is logically possible. I don’t know how the argument can get around this problem. Perhaps one could say that imagining something or conceiving of something is some evidence for the truth of a proposition being possible. However, that is compatible with not accepting a proposition as possible.

In trying to defend that this is possible–that God can create such beings- Horia George Plugaru argues:

Is this scenario logically impossible? It does not seem to be. If God is omnipotent, he can actualize anything that is logically possible. Assuming that God exists, it follows that all of his attributes, taken either separately or together, are logically possible. I can see no reason why God couldn’t create a being that knows all that there is to know, or that is morally perfect and free. Thus, God is indeed able to create another being that shared his attributes… Nor does it appear to be problematic to actualize more than two gods with such attributes. Omnipotence could raise difficulties—for example, could there be two or more omnipotent beings? Wouldn’t their power cancel or limit each other? The answer is no, for all godly beings would be morally perfect, omniscient, and perfectly rational. Thus, no disagreement could arise that would lead them to use their powers in different or contradictory ways. If we adopt a popular interpretation of omnipotence—namely, that a deity is omnipotent if it is able to do anything that is in accord with its own nature—then there cannot be any situation where two or more gods come into conflict, for they all have the same perfect nature.

It’s one thing (for a scenario) to not seem logically impossible but it’s another thing to seem logically impossible, and it’s another thing for a scenario to seem logically possible.

If we assume that it’s logically possible that God exists, that is not the same thing as it ‘being’ logically possible for other omnipotent/omnibenevolent beings to exist. Just because we can’t explain why God couldn’t create such entities does not mean that God can.

Certainly, many theists would affirm that it’s implausible that God could create such beings. Yes, but why? The answer has to do with divine simplicity. Divine simplicity says that God’s nature is God’s existence–God’s nature isn’t composed of metaphysical parts. God doesn’t have the attributes of necessary existence, perfect goodness, and perfect power. Rather, God just is all of those things; God just is his goodness which just is his power, etc. Given this view of God, there can’t be more than one God…even in principle. There can’t be more than one omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being. God exhausts what it means for it to be God; God is the Good and Power itself.1 In other words, God doesn’t (for example) participate in the Platonic Form of ‘Omnibenevolence’; if that were the case, then you could maybe see how there could be more than one all-good/all-powerful entity. Yes, you can imagine a simple God creating other all-powerful and all-good beings, but that’s just imaginary and a fantasy.

But what about theists that reject divine simplicity? How can they respond? Well, they can still affirm that it’s not clear that it is logically possible for God to create such entities. But can they rule such a situation out in principle? Certainly, they could assert that omnipotence and omnibenevolence are exclusive to God, but that doesn’t make it true. Why would they think that? That’s the issue. I suppose they could argue that God couldn’t actualize such a scenario even if we granted that it’s logically possible for there to exist more than one all-good/all-powerful entity. They could also re-formulate arguments that there can’t be more than one omnipotent being. Here, the argument is that there couldn’t be more than one entity that is not just all-good and all-powerful but free.

1 The doctrine is a little complicated and commonly misunderstood. The doctrine doesn’t mean that God is a simpleton or stupid; it also doesn’t mean that God is simple to understand (or that the doctrine itself is simple to understand!). Proponents of the doctrine also make many distinctions. For example, they distinguish between God’s essence and our language/predicates about God. They also distinguish between God’s essence/nature and his relation to the world. So, God has the “property” of being a creator, but that is not his nature: God could have not created the world. When we say something like, “God is Good” we are talking about metaphysics: it’s not a semantical or conceptual thesis; the same applies when we say something like, “God is Existence”. We mean that God if God exists, is necessary. We are not committing ourselves to a particular view of existence, including a Fregean or Kantian view of ‘existence’ (because even if existence isn’t a first-order property, necessary existence clearly is). To say that, “God is Existence” is not to say we can’t speak also as “God is his Existence”. This is also not the view that, if God exists, then God exists by definition (so that it’s a contradiction to suppose that God doesn’t exist). God is self-explanatory and uncaused (as opposed to self-caused). Divine simplicity, if coherent, would give an account of why God is a necessary being. For the theist that doesn’t hold to divine simplicity, it seems that they will just have to say it’s a brute fact (contingent or necessary) that God is a necessary being.

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5 thoughts on “Can God Create Another Omnipotent & Omnibenevolent Being?

  1. Thanks for the post. I’ve learned something new.

    This is the first time I hear of the assertion that God can only create omnipotent beings. I’ve only ever heard of the logical impossibility of more than one omnipotent being (this seems to be the reverse).

    It’s this premise 1 that I have an issue with.

    Here’s a few rebuttals:

    1) It’s logically possible that a being can create something equal or lesser than themselves. They cannot create something with more ability than they possess.

    2) It’s not a certainty that God is omnipotent. Perhaps He is just really, really powerful. If so, then He cannot create omnipotent beings. So, at best premise 1 is contingent (possible, but not certain). This means the argument is not necessarily sound.

    3) Why couldn’t God create non omnipotent beings? Plato thought He could (create non-omnipotent beings). If God is omnipotent, then He can create whatever He wishes. This includes non-omnipotent beings. So, this possibility also shows that premise 1 isn’t certain. It’s not necessarily true. Because of this, the argument stands on the head of a pin.

  2. Re “If we assume that it’s logically possible that God exists, that is not the same thing as it ‘being’ logically possible for other omnipotent/omnibenevolent beings to exist.” I do not follow this. Did our power to assume become truncated all of a sudden? If I can assume A is possible, cannot I also assume B is possible, and C? Do I have to assume A created B and C?

    The whole idea of “omni-powers” is imaginary. There is no example of an omni-anything in nature. These powers stem for our desire for there to be absolutes. And because we dabble in these imaginations we end up with ridiculous ideas like “all-good” gods. If our creator god, for example, were all-good as is claimed, how could evil even exist? How could sources of evil be created (and since the creator god must create all things, then . . .).

    When “logicians” suggest that we imagine the greatest of all beings, such that none could be more powerful or whatnot, I insist there is one that is greater. And they ask “What about God?” And I say “What about God’s mother?” There is no “greatest” or “all-” whatever deities. We imagine them as they cannot exist otherwise and then we debate endlessly about what they are capable of doing. They are capable of doing nothing because they are incapable of actually existing.

    If we were to give up our addition to such things, our arguments about gods would become more coherent, for example:

    The Logical Ontological Argument
    1. It is possible that a maximally great being does exist, but the probability is vanishingly small.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists with a vanishingly small probability, then there is a vanishingly small probability that a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world with a vanishingly small probability, then it exists in every possible world with a vanishingly small probability.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world with a vanishingly small probability, then it exists in the actual world with a vanishingly small probability.
    5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world with a vanishingly small probability, then there is a vanishingly small probability a maximally great being exists.
    6. Therefore, there is a vanishingly small probability that a maximally great being exists.

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for engaging with my Argument from the Existence of Nondeities (AEND).
    While I am in no way an expert on the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity (DDS), I see at least two problems with your objection.

    First, DDS is a controversial position even within theism and thus your objection shares all the problems and controversies the DDS has.

    Second, and more importantly, one could grant DDS and still mantain AEND. AEND does not rely on the falsity of DDS. Notice that AEND does not presuppose that the created gods are identical with God (with a capital G). Indeed, I explicitly write in my paper that there are such important differences as: God can be seen as necessarily existent, yet the created gods are contingent; God is eternal in the sense that he does not have a beginning nor an end, yet the created gods do have a beginning; God is the creator of all gods.

    DDS maintains that God does not have metaphysical parts and he is identical to each of his attributes. Thus, God IS omniscience, not just instantiating or exemplifying omniscience. But while I grant that God cannot create another God who “is what he has”, I do not see any problems with God creating beings who have metaphysical parts and who have the property of being omniscient, i.e. who know all there is to know. In other words, who are instantiating of exemplifying omniscience. Same for omnipotence and omnibenevolence.

    Yes, the created gods have an entirely different ontological structure, but that doesn`t mean they couldn`t be personal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

    You also write that “there couldn’t be more than one entity that is not just all-good and all-powerful but free.” I am not sure what your objection is, but my response to the first objection to AEND could be relevant. In my paper I said:

    “Ralph Wagenet describes God’s freedom as follows:
    `[God is] not bound by inappropriate or involuntary restraint. This is not the same as the absence of all restraint. Clearly it is no slavery to be bound by restraints that you yourself have chosen and embraced, that are consistent with who you are and what you desire. The opposite of freedom is compulsion; being bound to act inconsistently with your conscience and values. God is absolutely free, for no one and nothing can bind him to an action he finds repugnant.`

    All of the god-like beings in world A possess exactly the same kind of absolute freedom. Since they are omniscient, morally perfect, and perfectly rational, they will freely choose to do what is right and abstain from doing evil. If God is absolutely free, and thus his freedom is relevant and significant, so is the freedom possessed by the beings in world A. Therefore, their choices, like loving and worshipping God and loving all of the other beings in world A, are relevant and not determined by anything outside of them.”

    Horia Plugaru

  4. I ran across this, coincidentally, while looking for something else. Another coincidence; I offered essentially this argument and defended it 20 years earlier, in IJPR 35, 1993. So, a couple of comments. I noted the possible “out” of appealing to Divine Simplicity. I find that view literally unintelligible, and not well motivated by Aquinas. Ruis, in his notes, also says that DS would provide an account of necessary being. Why so? Because the universals omnipotence, etc., are necessary beings? That’s a lot of water to carry.
    There is another possible reply (the most effective, to my mind), viz. a principle of plenitude, according to which it would be better for ‘God to have created every possible world that was better than a certain minimum (e.g. more good than evil, perhaps). I think this argument also fails, for reasons given in the paper referenced above, “Divine Freedom and the Choice of a World.” But can God create other *free* beings that are omnipotent? Of course He can – so long as they, like God, are also necessarily omniscient and perfectly good. For then, necessarily, they will agree always to agree on what should be done. (If you deny that such beings are free, then you must say that also God is not free.) All in all, then, I concur with Horia.

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