What is greater than God, worse than evil,
The poor have it, the rich require it,
And if you eat it, you die?

What is it?

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry for being so quick! $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ it is better to be late than sorry :) $\endgroup$
    – MoonMind
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop I've heard this countless times over possibly 15 years... I doubt we could find a real source for this. I'd almost classify a puzzle like this as "common knowledge". $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ I don't like this puzzle because the standard answer requires deliberately misinterpreting the question, or at least twisting its meaning. It has at least one other arguable answer, which has been posted. Moreover, it's a chestnut. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ An atheist would have to come up with a different answer for this one (since they wouldn't believe nothing to be greater than God) :D $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 9:20

4 Answers 4


Too easy! I've seen something like this before.


Explanation isn't really necessary - just check all the clues - but I'll give some anyway:

Nothing is greater than God; nothing is worse than evil; the poor have nothing; the rich require nothing; if you eat nothing, you die.

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    $\begingroup$ Having a huge asteroid colliding with Earth is not evil in any sense (unless you agree that the nature is evil), yet it is one of the worst things you could imagine. $\endgroup$
    – user26486
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @mathh - I know the answer is very absolutist (and I don't agree with it), but it is the 'standard' 'right' answer. There's a lot of discussion about 'right' answers to riddles going on on this site right now! $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @user26486 Well... worse in the "more evil" sense :P $\endgroup$
    – somebody
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 23:42

Although the correct answer has been posted, I think there is room for another answer:


To support this claim, I offer that:

"What is greater than God"

If you assume the Mormon conception of God, there are multiple Gods recursively back forever, so "God" has his own "God" which has his one "God", forever. By this definition, there is always something greater than God, which is the God of that God. Actually you don't even have to assume a Mormon God for this to work, it can be proved mathematically. If God is infinite, then what is greater than infinity than a larger infinity? (e.g. aleph one versus aleph null) Also, as Psychemaster pointed out, if you are an atheist then from your perspective something (or anything) is greater than God, because God doesn't exist.

"worse than evil"

Similar to how there are things worse than death, there is also something worse than evil. For instance, simple incompetence can often be worse than evil ("never attribute to malice...") Natural suffering (disease, old age, etc. not caused by evil) can be worse than evil to the person suffering it.

"the poor have it"

No matter how poor a person is, they will always have something, whether it is their health, or happiness, or simply life.

"the rich require it"

A rich person will always require something (water, food, shelter, etc.), their being rich simply means they will be able to acquire it without any problem.

"if you eat it, you die?"

Living creatures are a paradox of sort. You need the sun to create vitamin D, but the sun can also give you skin cancer. If you eat something your body will be nourished, but your body will age (production of free radicals, telomere exhaustion, etc.) and you will eventually die.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice one! "Very little" could also work. The 'right' answer is very absolutist :-p $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor "Only Siths deal in absolutes" -- Yoda $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Michael, if there are other beings who are infinitely perfect, and powerful, and good, other than God, then that is something I would love to know more about. C.S. Lewis said, "It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship." (from his Weight of Glory) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ "something" does seem to be a catch-all answer applicable for any riddle. Your answer refers to, for example: natural suffering, water, food, shelter, the sun, cancer, death, aging, all under the heading 'something'. Almost every riddle on this site is answerable with 'something'. $\endgroup$
    – user2174
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ Catholic version of God, as described in Fides et Ratio, performs His acts in terms of human language. Human laguage -whatever language you pick- is a language. Languages are Aleph-0 infinite. God is Aleph-0 infinite. There is Aleph-1 infinite above God even for catholic church. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 15:04

This is a little bit whacky but what the heck. It think it could be:

The pope in medieval times

What is greater than God

The pope used the religion to gain power over the peasants, so they could be seen as having a greater effect on the peasants than God's actual bible (because peasants were illiterate).

Worse than evil

This use of religion to get peasants to do your bidding can be seen as evil

The poor have it

The peasants have the pope to guide them

The rich require it

The clergy and rich people required this power to keep themselves ontop and in control.

And if you eat it, you die?

Both cannibalism and murder are frowned upon, and execution was not uncommon.

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    $\begingroup$ Plus, it's difficult to prepare a human in a safe way (infections)... not that I know anything about that. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ lol i like this +1 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 0:35

I thought it was:


What is greater than God

I don't really know for this one

Worse than evil

thinking about big mistakes that tortures you for years

The poor have it

not really poor, but people with a "normal" job, who still can spend time with their familly and friends

The rich require it

worked all their life, and at the end they want time to spend their money, enjoye their life etc

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    $\begingroup$ Time is greater than God. Even Time was ahead of God predicting human's evil behavior before the flood. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @LuisMasuelli but didn't God create time? Like everything else, time is a product of God's imagination (i.e. if you believe). $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ i. e. Time did not exist before the beginning of the universe $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 15:52

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