Alvin Plantinga has proposed that a being is maximally excellent if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good. I would almost have to agree, except, what in goodness name is omnipotence? Unlimited power, right? A being that can do anything it chooses. That's interesting. So what does excellence have to do with it? Surely excellence is a quality where you excel at something. You can do something very, very, very well.
If you can do it maximally well, you can do it without any problems at all. I couldn't help but examine what that means. Without any problems. If you will it, it will be. Right there, right then. Unusual. Magical one might say. Miraculous. At close scrutiny, examination of maximal excellence lead me into absurdity, reinforcing yet again my strong agnosticism. Time came to mind. Time, that unidirectional and irreversible principle of being. Surely an omnipotent being is in full and complete control of time.
Would it not be that a maximally excellent being is one who can do everything at the same time? That is to say, for a maximally excellent being, the existence of time aught to be irrelevant. Surely, if I can complete a test in 1 second without any errors, I will be considered more excellent than someone who takes a whole day. Now if I can complete it in 0 seconds, I must certainly be maximally excellent. You cannot get any better than that.
So if God is maximally excellent, then God will have completed all things without ever having done anything, since nothing can be done in no time. If nothing can be done in no time, then how did God do anything? Put differently, if everything is done at the same time, including its final destruction, which must be considered part of the task at hand (i.e. the doing of everything), it's as if nothing was ever done.
But if God is maximally excellent than surely God did something. Because if I do nothing that is required of me in my test in a whole day, then I will surely have failed the test. Unless, of course, I am given an infinite amount of time to complete the test. But if it takes me infinite time to complete the test, how can I be said to be excellent?
Hence God cannot be maximally excellent if God is maximally excellent.
You can replace maximally excellent with an other such combination of adjectives and nouns. Perfectly skilled, most awesome doer, whatever you want. Anything that implies a maximality of great workmanship. It makes no difference. Why would God act in time at all unless God is constrained to work in time? And if God is constrained in time, then God is not unlimited. So I'm left to ask, what other limits does God have? Of course, you could say that all this is not a test, nothing is required of God. But that leaves me wondering what the difference is between God and the principle of indeterminate existence.
Platinga's definition of maximal excellence contains itself a constraint on that which God does. Goodness is required. This, by inference, is Plantinga's creative test for God. Not having read his whole oeuvre, I don't exactly know what Plantinga means by good. But since its an axiom of his modal ontological proof, it aught to be clear prima facie. So let me rephrase it in an attempt to understand it. I think good can be thought of that which is to be desired. But what is ultimately to be desired? Can only an omnipotent being know? Is this omnipotent being bound, again, by some terms of goodness?
Again, time, comes to mind. It can rephrased in an age old question. Why would God act in time, if time implies a transition from what is not desired? With other words, time implies suffering. Why not instantaneously create that which is desired, the good? Plantinga has a response for this. His argument essentially boils down to that there are certain worlds God cannot create, one of them is a world of free agents where the agents are not fallible. Since a world with free agents is better than a world with no agents, God is forced to create a world that contains evil. Again, I'm left asking what other constraints are imposed on this supposed omnipotent yet omnibenevolent being?
So Plantinga concedes that God is constrained. Is this what we are doing when we perform empirical tests, discovering the laws imposed on God? That is, we are discovering God's Constraints. So is there a being greater than God, one that includes both God and God's Constraints? Or is this what God is? God's Constraints and the randomly creative impulse that initially makes anything but ultimately only certain things possible within such constraints? Is God evolution and its prerequisites for variability and selection? Are we part of the process of determining goodness?