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God Is Inept
Well, nobody's perfect...

"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. The worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever."

And in The beginning, God, the Council of Angels, or what have you Created The Universe...

But in retrospect, they botched a few things up in the original design, a few things just don't do what they were probably intended to do, and there's all these little bits of design that make people go "What the... I could have designed this better!" These aren't moral things; there is no refuge in claiming that God Is Evil. It's just shoddy worksmanship.

May result in a Crapsack World, Crapsaccharine World, Götterdämmerung, be the cause of the problem that the quest is about, or merely be a peculiar background detail. Not the same as The Gods Must Be Lazy; the design errors may be causing the gods extra work.

God may later claim that it was just a Gambit Roulette justified by their Omniscient Morality License, and that Obfuscating Stupidity is all part of their master plan... but unless the ending explodes in a hail of Chekhov's gunfire, especially if accompanied by a prearranged divine Ass Pull of divine might, that explanation just never seems very convincing, somehow. As a rule of thumb, if a person can, in retrospect, work out how the plan was set up in advance, and some previously arranged coincidences unravel into karmically appropriate boons before the end, it was probably a divine plan. Otherwise, it's probably just bumbling.

Essentially, applying the Hanlon's Razor approach to God Is Evil.

Compare God Is Flawed. May lead to questioning via Religious Russian Roulette.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comics 

    Film 
  • In Dogma God seems rather inept.
    • First, God decides to play skeeball without any kind of protection or checking the future first, so a bunch of teenagers are enough to put the Supreme Being into a coma.
    • Second, God arranges things so that a Fallen Angel walking though a doorway can end all existence.
    • Metatron states that they went through several "Adam"s before they realized mortals couldn't actually survive hearing God's voice, hence Metatron's function (speaking to mortals for God). The confession isn't exactly confidence building in regards to God's omniscience.
    • Alternatively, perhaps God did know everything that would happen, and before heading down, gave strict instructions to Metatron to find The Last Scion and exercise dishonesty so that Bethany would succeed on the quest through her own merits and with no divine assistance, since She knew everything that would come to pass. That included ensuring she could meet Bethany and knock her up 'cause there's a big danger in the future her son/daughter would need to face, and he or she would have to be trained from the get-go, unlike their mother who had a crash course.

  • The film Time Bandits deals heavily with the concept that The Supreme Being (God) made errors in his designs, both with individual items (which are listed occasionally) and with the universe in general.
    • God was also assisted in his creation (which, for some reason, he was "forced" to complete in only seven days) by some greedy, inept dwarves rather than a council of angels. The dwarves then steal God's map that shows where all of the "holes" are in the fabric of the universe, and instead of using the map to fix the holes, decide to get rich by stealing stuff.
    • Evil (Arthur G. Evil) rants about how God wasted his time creating garbage like all those species of slugs, instead of starting with lasers and other high tech.
    • God (in the film) is also incapable of answering those questions people expect God to be able to answer, such as, "why does there have to be evil?" (His answer: "... I think it has something to do with free will?"note 
  • Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson)'s rant in The Witches of Eastwick (but note he's supposed to be Satan).
    Daryl: Do you think God knew what He was doing when He created woman? Huh? No shit. I really wanna know. Or do you think it was another one of His minor mistakes like tidal waves, earthquakes, FLOODS? You think women are like that? S'matter? You don't think God makes mistakes? Of course He does. We ALL make mistakes. Of course, when WE make mistakes they call it evil. When GOD makes mistakes, they call it "nature". So whaddya think? Women... a mistake, or did he do it to us ON PURPOSE?

    Literature 
  • One of the Myst novels contained one of these, an island in a universe in a book which was slowly shrinking and disintegrating due to a thermodynamics problem inherent in it's design.
    • All of Gehn's worlds are like this: dangerously unstable, and prone to apocalyptic catastrophe if meddled with. Making matters worse is the fact that these worlds existed before Gehn first linked to them, meaning that rather than creating worlds, he's destroying them.
      • His son Atrus is a much better linking author, and doesn't have his head rammed quite so far up his ass; in fact, during Riven, while you're busy saving the day in person, Atrus is amending Gehn's books in an attempt to save as many of the Ages they link to as possible. During the game proper, he's working on Riven specifically, although he's aware that his father's fifth Age is beyond salvation; he's just keeping it stable long enough that you can finish your task there.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, the people of the eponymous nation have a creation myth saying that this world is just God's first attempt, and that now he's off somewhere creating a better world using the lessons he learned from his mistakes with this one.
  • Discworld:
    • Sam Vimes has been described as wishing he could arrest the Creator for doing such a crummy job.
      • However, when the Creator actually turns up in Eric, he turns out to be a quite nice (if EXTREMELY absent-minded, to the extent that he really did accidentally forget the Octavo) fellow who was just trying to build the thing to spec and on-budget for the initial set of Gods. He even complains about the lousy workmanship other Creators are doing, and the habit of sub-contracting to beings who never get the work done on time.
    • The god the wizards encounter in The Last Continent is so inept he (a god of evolution) doesn't know creatures have to reproduce and keeps making only one of each.
    • In The Last Hero, Carrot meets the gods on Dunmanifestin and, asked if he fears them as mortals should, truthfully replies that what he's seen of them frightens the life out of him. (Truthfully, because they're clearly petty, incompetent jerks).
  • Tom Holt's Here Comes The Sun features a Celestial Bureaucracy and a very hands-off God, and says that the world went wrong very early on due to the incompetence of one of the bureaucracy's employees. The heroine thinks she could have done better, and gets a chance to prove it.
  • Chapter 1 of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe starts with this: "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, God's Final Message to His Creation was "We apologise for the inconvenience".
  • In The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Heinlein, the world turns out to be a work of art made by a newb creator. The content is actually considered to be very impressive overall, but the underlying structure of the world was made by "painting over" one of the creator's earlier works which leads to issues with things seeping through.
  • Arguably, the Young Wizards series presents an example; the Lone Power managed to implement the physical processes that would lead to the eventual heat-death of the universe, and by the time any of the other Powers That Be noticed, it was too late to reverse the damage without scrapping creation and starting over, which they didn't have the resources for. This leads to the Powers, and the mortal wizards who serve them, running damage control for all of time.
  • Alfred Bester wrote a story entitled "Hell is Forever" in which five people are given the chance to mold reality to their liking. It doesn't go well for any of them, though the one for the character Digby Finchley fits the trope the best. It turns out that if you want to create a universe, a firm working knowledge of thermodynamics may be important.

     Live Action TV  
  • Variation in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Q claims to be God, but Picard doesn't buy it:
    Picard: The universe is not that badly designed.

    Music 
  • "Better Off Dead" by Bad Religion is told from the perspective of God, and basically consists of him apologizing for screwing up the world so bad.
  • "Daniel y el Señor" by Les Luthiers has a god that is so bad at his job that Daniel tells him that, while he once believed in God and the Devil, he believes that God is enough to count for both.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • The Golden Apple is one notable Greek story, wherein Eris (a most certainly not inept god) manages to start the Trojan War by getting three other goddesses (Athena, Aphrodite and Hera) into a fight over who gets to keep the golden apple, which bears the inscription "For the fairest". Yes. The biggest war in Greek Mythology was started over pure vanity (and attempts to bribe the judge).
    • The ineptest Greek god may be Epimetheus ("afterthought"), literally the deity or Anthropomorphic Personification of realizing too late that you screwed up. One myth (or possibly allegory) recorded by Plato explains the creation of humans and animals like this: Zeus (who didn't think this through either?) assigns Epimetheus and his much more intelligent brother Prometheus ("forethought") to create animals and humans. Prometheus gets the more important job (humans) and takes his time making sure the basic design is sound. By the time he's ready to give humans some of the gifts which Zeus had made available, he finds that Epimetheus has already used up every last one of them on a bazillion shoddily-thrown-together animals. There's nothing left for humans, leaving us no useful adaptations at all. Prometheus then has to steal fire just for humans to survive. And Zeus punishes him instead of his brother!
    • Another story with the pair; when Zeus and his group overthrew the Titans Prometheus saw which way the wind was blowing and joined them. Epimetheus was spared because by the time he picked a side the war was over.
    • And of course, Pandora's Box. Depending on the version, it was left unlocked out in the open by Epithemeus (again) where any idiot could open it and unleash various calamities (part of Zeus' gifts, which he hadn't found a use for) on the world, or brought as Pandora's dowry, who opened it and spilled out all the blessings save hope.
  • The Old Testament:
    • The Abrahamic God appears to be closer to this at times in The Bible, especially in early writings. After all, the Garden of Eden had been around for all of about five minutes before Adam and Eve screwed it up. You'd have thought that maybe God could have fenced off the original Forbidden Fruit, or taken at least the most basic precaution to ensure that his newest creation (Who didn't know the difference between right and wrong) wouldn't take the one action that would ruin everything.
    • There's a well known passage in Judges (Judges 1:19) where God was unable to help Judah triumph over 'the inhabitants of the valley' because they had 'chariots of iron'.
  • Originally in Gnosticism (that's where the word "Demiurge" came from: Dēmiourgos — "public worker"). Many doctrines of it tell something like "our world is made by someone pretty low in Divine Ranks, not very skilled at this" — explaining any problems of the world we know as consequences of a work botched from the start.

    The Demiurge is also described as a childlike entity that merely thinks it's actually God, having created the universe as a sandbox in which to play in, before eventually coming to believe it's own propaganda.
  • Voudoun: Bondye, the supreme creator god, is simply so far removed from the world that he either can't hear us, or just can't help us. Instead, people look to the Loa, other powerful beings, for help.
  • In the Finnish mythology described in The Kalevala the creation of the world is described as an accident, the creator goddess Ilmatar accidentally letting a nestful of eggs fall from her knee (long story), cracking them in the process. The pieces of eggs then formed the the lands and skies. This is humorously commented in Petri Hiltunen's newspaper comic Väinämöisen paluu (Väinämöinen Returns) — for the sake of context, Väinämöinen is Ilmatar's son:
    Väinämöinen:The world is a mistake. Pieces of a cracked eggshell festering with tiny life.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • God in The Far Side. One strip (which drew complaints) showed God as a child trying to make a chicken, with the experiment blowing up in his face. Another strip had God taking the Earth out of the oven realizing too late that it was only half-baked. Yet another one shows the rise of humanity as a total accident on God's part: he dropped a jar of humans on Earth and went "Uh oh". Another one portrayed as more of a Jerkass God instead; having finished cooking up Earth, he added a liberal seasoning of "Jerks" just to make it interesting.

     Web Original  
  • Misfile's filing system, in combination with its Celestial Bureaucracy, has at times been viewed as this.
  • The Order of the Stick: The first attempt to create a universe was so spoiled by the arguments of the gods that they ended up creating the Snarl, which killed the Greco-Roman pantheon before they managed to lock it down. The lock? The second attempt at the universe. Said universe is an Anachronism Stew because, to avoid creating another Snarl, the gods decided to take turns unilaterally adding design elements. The idea is based off Rich Burlew's whinings about D&D cosmology.
    South God: OK, my turn? Ninjas.
    North God: What? Hey, we all agreed on this medieval knights-and-wizards theme!
    South God: So? It's my turn, my choice, I say: NINJA!
    North God: …Fine.
  • Mr Deity is frequently called out for allowing bad things that he could easily have stopped, using needlessly overcomplicated schemes for no good reason, or not thinking his plans through. He generally has some kind of non-sequitur reason why this is for the best, but none of the other characters believe him.

     Tabletop RPG  
  • World Tree RPG: The Khytsoyis. "I lost track of time, so I'm going to grab up a violent monster I was designing, one that was actually designed to work as a duo with another monster in fact, and make it my Designated Player Character Race!" One of the other gods in the setting took time out to help said god create another PC race which was more appropriate, but they didn't undo the original issue.
  • GURPS Cabal. Before the Creation, God made a "first draft" of the universe as a test. He then destroyed it and remade it as the universe we know today. The Qlippoth are the remaining fragments of the 1st Creation. Their intent is to remake the universe over in their diseased, broken, toxic image.
    • On the other hand, the Creator was actually thoughtful enough to clean up after himself-while he couldn't destroy the Qlippoth, he created a "prison realm", the Abyss, to seal them and other Bad Things in. What's more, it's also a barrier between his realm and the rest of the Four Worlds, thus prevented all but the most wise and powerful from managing to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • The rearrangement of the Ravenloft Core as a result of the Grand Conjunction may have been damage-control on the part of the Dark Powers, who'd belatedly realized that neither the Nightmare Lands nor Bluetspur really belonged in a Cluster of human-inhabited, comparatively mundane domains. It certainly was this, for the game designers.

     Video Games 
  • Rift: One of the driving reasons for the Defiant to exist as a faction is a strongly held belief in this very concept as the gods have shown their capability to fix the problems at hand, but have chosen ineffectual or outright lazy methods of achieving this, all of which can be described as slapping a bandaid on a crack in the damn before sending ants to fix the problem for you.
  • Etro certainly meant well. She loved humanity, the one and only thing she had ever been able to create, (by tearing her own body apart,) gave them all their souls and ruled as a benevolent Shinigami styled goddess over Valhalla, the realm of the dead... However, she was also seemingly unable to realize the limits of her own abilities, appreciate the risks she was taking or see the consequences of her actions. Eventually this leads to her accidentally breaking reality and when she tries to fix it again the effort ultimately kills her. According to Word of God, Etro was a quite "foolish" goddess, but it's unclear if that meant she was intellectually impaired or just didn't have much in the way of common sense.

     Other 
  • The philosopher David Hume, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, wrote: "The world is perhaps the rudimentary sketch of a childish god, who left it half done, ashamed by his deficient work; it is created by a subordinate god, at whom the superior gods laugh; it is the confused production of a decrepit and retiring divinity, who has already died."

    He was not proposing the hypothesis seriously, but using it as a parody of theological arguments that tried to prove the perfection of God from the perfection of the natural world. However, some philosophers took this theory seriously.
  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has stated that the basic hostility of the universe to the human species is why he refuses to accept the Intelligent Design Theory as true, because no supposed "intelligent" designer would have made such a sucky, dangerous, lethal world for human beings to live in.
  • There are jokes about God being an inept engineer for putting a sewage line through a recreational area and giving men nipples.


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